Nine-year-old Newcastle gelding Grand Condor brought off a long-played plunge when he beat a quality field of sprinters in the 900 metre Hurricane Handicap on the second day of the Newcastle Jockey Clubs Spring Carnival on Saturday.
Trained on the Newcastle track by Steve Hodge Grand Condor was an $81 chance with corporate bookmakers on Friday night.
Connections and stable followers snapped up the $81 and by race time the underrated sprinter was a $31 chance in a very strong betting race. Canberra apprentice Rachel Hunt was on loan to Warwick Farm Trainer Mark De Montfort made use of Grand Condors speed and he raced outside the leader Aomen.
Grand Condor took the lead in the straight and defied determined challengers by Cessnock trained Three Sheets ($5) and Wouldn’t It Be Nice ($8.50)
The win was a windfall for Central Charlestown Rugby League coach Barny Miller and his son Lucas who is racing manager for Kris Lees. The Millers bred Grand Condor but the gelding has until Saturday been leased by the Newcastle based From The Track syndicate.
He won seven races and $137,000 for the syndicate before the lease expired and the horse’s future was up in the air after he finished seventh in a Muswellbrook race on August 6.
Barney Miller has purchased a property at Lochinvar and the intentions is to retire Grand Condor to the property however the Millers decided to keep the horse in training with close friend Hodge for the time being.
The trainer was over the moon on Saturday “He had not won a race for a long time but he has been a good old horse for the syndicate. When Barney and Lucas decided to race the horse themselves I freshened him up for the Hurricane. Grand Condor was very well weighted with 51 kilograms on his back after Rachel’s three-kilogram claim.
Lucas and I were confident and we did back him at $81” Hodge said.
Ironically the runner up Three Sheets trained by Jeremy Sylvester is part owned by recently appointed Cessnock Goannas Coach Al Lantry.
Three Sheets has been set for next month’s Jungle Juice Cup at Cessnock and it was an impressive first up run.
Nathan Perry, foreman for his father Paul, disclosed after the “Hurricane” that Wouldn’t It Be Nice has run his last race.
The seven-year-old won five races and $557,000 in prizemoney.
The Perry stable was the only other Newcastle stable to taste success on Saturday.
Surjin a three-year-old son of Perry’s Golden Slipper Winner Stratum stormed home to win the 1400 metre Maiden Handicap by one and a half lengths.
The colt put the writing on the wall on debut when third on the Beaumont track on September 5.
Sydney jockey Koby Jennings has been in great form of late on the Newcastle tracks and he landed a double for two of Australia’s most successful stables.
He was successful on Seaglass for Peter and Paul Snowden on the 1200 metre Class 1 Handicap and he brought odds on favourite Newburgh from the tail of the field to run the 900 metre Maiden Plate for the Hawkes stable.
The powerful Godolphin stable landed a double on the first day of the Carnival on Friday and their lone starter Drachenfels was successful on Saturday.