Local jockey Aaron Bullock bookended Thursday’s Newcastle meeting and Tim Clark also landed a double on the day. Bullock has ridden 11 winners in the first 15 days of the new season while Clark leads the Australian Premiership with 13 winners. Bullock was off to a flying start on the day when he won the opening event the Sharp Electronics Group Maiden Plate (1890m) aboard the $15 chance Populist.
The latter trained by Paul Messara had been disappointing in nine previous starts, but Bullock coaxed the best out of the four-year-old on Thursday. Runner up Urbino was the subject of a massive plunge firming from $5.50 to $1.50. Hugh Bowman rode the favourite for Kris Lees, and he settled the European stayer near the rear. He had every chance to run the winner down but went down half a length.
Bullock had to wait until the final event of the day to complete his double. He had the mount on the Gosford trained Zoffany’s Lad an $8.50 chance in the Australian Bloodstock Benchmark 64 Handicap (1890m). Zoffany’s Lad can mix his form, but he dashed clear in the straight and held on well. Clark had to work overtime on the $1.75 favourite Wayupinthesky in the Reward Hospitality Class 1 Handicap (900m). The three-year-old filly trained by Peter and Paul Snowden was resuming from a spell on the back of a nice trial. She only raced twice in her first prep for a creditable fifth in the Group 2 Riesling on debut before winning at Warwick Farm.
Clark settled the winner behind the well backed Godolphin filly Vivaro and the pair had a two horse war from the 200m. Wayupinthesky scored by a head.
The second leg of Clark’s double came up in the Coastline Pools & Spas 3YO Maiden Plate (900m). Clark had the mount on Bjorn Bakers filly Hit The Run which was heavily backed. She was on debut and after being backed from $4.60 into $2.50 the filly led throughout.
Newcastle’s premier jockey from last season Andrew Gibbons was in the winner’s circle aboard Majella in the 1500-meter Top Cut Foods Maiden Handicap. The mare was runner up in her only two race starts in July and she won easily after being trapped three wide.