The Irish eyes of the talented jockey Declan McDonough were smiling at the Newcastle Racecourse on Saturday when he landed a double on his first visit to Newcastle. The 37-year-old Irishman had four mounts on Saturday and he was first past the post on Puppet Master in the 900 metres 3-year-old Maiden Plate and California Turbo in the 1400 Metre Maiden Plate Handicap. The other two mounts were unplaced.
The brilliant Puppet Master the hot $1.60 favourite wasn’t far outside the 900 metres track record when he treated racegoers to a display of sheer speed. With McDonough sporting the colours of 2017 Golden Slipper Winner She Will Reign, Puppet Master quickly put a gap in his rivals and he straightened up with a big lead and full of running. Puppet Master won by 1 ¾ lengths in 51-34 or .17 outside Rebel Miss’ track record.
The colt sped over the last 600 metres in a breathtaking 32.07. He is trained for a large syndicate of owners by She Will Reigns’ Warwick Farm trainer Gary Portelli. Purchased at a ‘Ready To Run’ sale in Melbourne the three year old has had five starts for a win and three placings. McDonough had a smile from ear to ear when greeted by connections on dismounting. “Wow. He is quick, very fast. I wasn’t going to give up the rail but I had no worries there. He left them standing” the Irishman said.
McDonough’s other winner California Turbo is from the powerful Snowden Stable and he was very impressive. The three-year-old was on debut after a recent Randwick barrier trail win and he settled at the tail of the field.
The leader Starvina kicked away into the home straight and he looked to have the race won. However, California Turbo unwound a powerful sprint to gather in Starvina and race away to win by a widening 1.8 lengths. “The trainer told me to have the horse where is comfortable in the small field. They got along up front so I rode him patient and he attacked the line”. McDonough said.
He started his riding career when 17 years of age and he has ridden 960 winners. “Unfortunately, my Visa only allows me to stay until the end of January. I love it here in Australia and the tracks are so much better than at home. I rode at Gosford on Thursday and here today and the tracks are smooth with great surfaces. In Ireland, they have ridges. It has been a good start to my working holiday. I rode a winner at Gosford and I lost another race in the steward’s room. I have six rides at Hawkesbury tomorrow”. The likeable hoop said as he was leaving the track on Saturday.
Champion trainer Chris Waller produced a highly promising filly in the 1200 metre Maiden Plate. Seahampton a three-year-old daughter to Golden Slipper winner Sebring is not only a magnificent looking individual but is highly talented. She stepped out in the 1200 metre Maiden Plate and was subject of heavy support forming from $4 into $2.80 favourite in her second race start.
Seahampton settled near the tail and when jockey Grant Buckley called on her at the top of the straight she was held up and desperate for clear running. Buckley managed to find a gap and Seahampton grabbed the bit and stormed home to win by 2 ½ lengths. “This filly is very good and will be winning quality races in the future” Buckley said on returning to scale.
The Kris Lees trained Heat Haze was the only Newcastle trained galloper to win at the meeting however the Muswellbrook speedster Barr Hill trained by Andrew Robinson was also successful.