Central Coast mare Our Winnie continued her impressive turnaround when she stretched her winning sequence to five at Newcastle Racecourse on Saturday.
Our Winnie, trained at Somersby by former Australian cycling champion Greg McFarlane, was winless at her first nine starts and faced her sternest task on Saturday when she had her first race over a trip of more than 1600 metres.
The mare was an easing $4.20 second favourite in the 1865m Newcastle Nobbys benchmark 70 handicap.
Jockey Christian Reith let Our Winnie drift to near the tail of the 11-horse field. Reith revved her up at the top of the straight and Our Winnie quickly gathered in the leaders and looked set for an easy win. However, The Iron Maiden issued a late challenge and failed narrowly.
Our Winnie's winning streak started at Scone on July 23 and continued at Muswellbrook, Tamworth and Gosford. McFarlane was confident on Saturday, which was the Our Winnie’s 12th start this preparation.
“This mare has shown no sign of needing a spell and after today she will step up to midweek metropolitan class,” McFarlane said on Saturday.
“I decided to run Our Winnie here today in preference to Randwick on Monday. I know it took her 10 starts to win a race but realistically she was a good thing beaten three times.”
McFarlane was a member of the Australian 1999 bronze medal team at the cycling World Cup in Italy.
“I train on the 40-acre property at Somersby where John McNair trained until he retired. Horses thrive there as we have treadmills, swimming pool and an uphill track. I have been there nine years and a lot of money has been spent. Shortly, I will have 70 stalls and I also have 12 stables at Gosford.”
The only Newcastle-trained horse to win on Saturday’s eight-race program was Tabrobane.
The former Ben Smith-trained seven-year-old won the final event, the 1200m benchmark 64 handicap.
Recently transferred to Jason Deamer, the gelding was on a quick back-up after a strong-finishing fifth over a shorter trip at Scone eight days earlier.
Unwanted by punters, Tabrobane went to the barrier as a $16 chance and with 60 kilograms on his back, Reith allowed him to settle back in the field. Just when $3 favourite Cartel appeared to have the race won, Tabrobane stormed home to win by 1 ½ lengths.
Deamer was offered a number of Smith-trained horses but accepted only Tabrobane and Iron Duke.
“The owner, Scott Savala, was keen to run him and he had done well since the Scone run so we accepted,” Deamer said.
“Tabrobane is no spring chicken but I think there is a midweek metropolitan win in him. I only got him 12 days ago and he had to be tested again before he could race.
“Iron Duke runs at Warwick Farm on Wednesday.”