Spriggs sticks with filly


EWCASTLE jockey Dale Spriggs heads to Randwick tomorrow to ride one of the most promising horses he has partnered in many years.

Spriggs, who scored a winning double at the Anzac Day meeting at Cessnock, had the chance to ride in Brisbane or take a strong book at Newcastle.

But he bypassed both meetings to stay with the highly promising Craig Carmody-trained filly Xatel Ekwa, which will run in the the listed $100,000 JamesBCarr Stakes (1400metres).

It is a big step up from the two Saturday wins Spriggs has had on Xatel Ekwa at Newcastle.

‘‘I was not going to pass up the chance to stay on her,’’ Spriggs said yesterday. ‘‘She is up so much in grade but has a lot of upside. It is very hard for a filly to bounce from a maiden win to restricted class and score again.

‘‘But she did it and did it well. Her maiden win blew me away, I came from last but she won running away.

‘‘I had to ride her a lot closer last start because she began well and got into a forward spot easily, so I just let her cruise there.

‘‘She still showed great fight to go on and win. It has been a really long time since I have been on one with this type of promise.

‘‘She deserves her chance in town on Saturday, but I believe that next preparation she could develop into something a bit special.’’

Xatel Ekwa is a chestnut filly by Written Tycoon from Solar Song which is a Flying Spur mare.

She was third of 11 on debut at Kembla on March 12 over 1200m before winning at Newcastle over 1500m in maiden company on March 31.

Xatel Ekwa then repeated the dose at Newcastle on April 12 in a benchmark60 race over 1500m.

Spriggs and trainer Craig Carmody go back a long way.

‘‘I can remember when Craig started as an apprentice with Rod Craig at Warwick Farm,’’ Spriggs said. ‘‘I rode against him in countless races over the years and now here he is training and I am riding one for him in town.’’

■ Newcastle’s greatest modern-day jockey Allan Robinson was back at the races for the first time in almost two years this week when he made an appearance at Gosford’s Anzac Day meeting on Wednesday.

At his peak, Robinson rode more winners in a season than any other jockey in Australia. But he was just a face in the crowd at Gosford.

He has not ridden since a horror fall at Cessnock on Jungle Juice Cup day Tuesday, July 6, 2010.

Robinson came down on Pocket Change along with Scott Thurlow on Assonance in the AHA benchmark

60 over 1550m, two races before the Jungle Juice Cup.

Thurlow spent many months on the sideline but it signalled the end of Robinson’s illustrious 30-year career.

‘‘I am still suffering headaches and dizziness,’’ Robinson said.

‘‘The only reason I went to Gosford is that Singo’s Meats was a sponsor and I hosted a show for them. I watched a couple of races but left before the last.’’

Robinson said his riding days are ‘‘definitely over’’.

‘‘’I look at the results these days to see how mates like Corey Brown are going but that is about it,’’ he said.

‘‘I am hosting club shows and this Saturday I will be doing one with Alfie Langer at the Dungog RSL. But I have many more interests keeping me occupied these days than racing.’’

■ A foot abscess cost Wyong’s Sincero a chance to line up in tomorrow’s star-studded $500,000 group1 Queen Elizabeth Stakes (2000m) at Randwick.

‘‘It is nothing major but I decided to pull the pin now on the race and his preparation,’’ Farley said yesterday.

‘‘The foot abscess has caused a very hectic 24hours. I had hoped he might get over it it but I would have looked a mug if I had accepted and he got beat out of sight.

‘‘It just was not fair on the horse to ask him to take on a task as big as this when he has had even a minor setback. He needed to be at his very best to take on the top horses he was to meet on Saturday.

‘‘He just could not be totally right so he misses the race and right now I would say he would go for a spell straight away.

‘‘The plan was to spell him after Saturday so I think we’ll stick with that idea.

‘‘He can have a good break and get ready for Melbourne in the spring. It is a pity for it to happen right now because the horse is flying, but that is the way it goes.’’

■ Gosford Race Club is keen to ensure its guineas becomes its signature race.

The 1200m listed event was worth $250,000 on Sunday, but it could go as high as $400,000 in coming seasons.

‘‘We are working with Racing NSW about event meetings and the Gosford Guineas is the one race we intend to make our signature event,’’ Gosford chief James Heddo said.

‘‘It was a terrific success on Sunday and can only get bigger. We have not given up hope of a stand-alone Saturday where we could run all four of our feature races.

‘‘But if that did not happen we would be happy to increase prizemoney substantially for the guineas.’’

Gosford attracted more than 5000 people on Wednesday.

‘‘It was our biggest Anzac Day meeting and it was a huge success,’’ Heddo said.

‘‘It rivalled our New Year’s Eve meeting for the size of the crowd.’’

■ Newcastle trainer Darren Smith is hoping the Broadmeadow track, which was rated a dead (5) yesterday, will help Savannah Prince show his best form tomorrow.

Savannah Prince runs in the Lawler Financial Services benchmark65 over 1400m.

‘‘He was racing well before he struck a track badly rain-affected at Canterbury last start,’’ Smith said. ‘‘He is going well on the track, and with Alison Threadwell’s two-kilo claim he is not badly off in this type of race.’’

Smith will also start Melburg in the MRA benchmark65 race over 900m.

‘‘Melburg is resuming but is very honest and has done enough to go well first-up,’’ he said.

■ Gosford trainer Gilbert Slattery supplied the perfect present for his 57th wedding anniversary when Aftadarka, which he prepares, won the last race at Cessnock on Wednesday.

■ It was fitting that old-timer Mindreader would win at his last start at Gosford on Wednesday.

The now 11-year-old Mindreader has been retired by Gosford trainer John McNair after his 79th start.

Incredibly, Mindreader scored his first win at Gosford on March 30, 2003.

Since then he has won 10 more times and been placed 14 times for prizemoney of almost $460,000.

‘‘He has been a great old warrior and it is great he will be remembered for winning his first race at Gosford and nine years later his last on the same track,’’ McNair said.

‘‘Not many are good enough, tough enough or brave enough to come away with a record like his.’’

■ The nominations for the Cessnock barrier trials have been extended until 11am today. The trials will be conducted on the course proper at Cessnock over 800m.

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