Day At The Track

Valmagne too smart

11:00 AM 18 Apr 2017 NZST
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Josh Kennett heard Valmagne’s first win in 14 months at Hawera yesterday (Monday) on a scratchy old radio while he was gearing up nine-length winner, Veneto - some 750km away in Motukarara.

“One of my owners had the radio and it was great to hear Valmagne win. I still haven’t seen it yet, but this mare down here won pretty easy as well, thanks to a nice Ricky May drive.

“We’ve had a great Easter Monday. I’m rapt for Dad. It’s a good lead-up going into the big Group One races at Alexandra Park in the next few weeks. The horse is very fit,” Waimate-based Kennett said.

Although Valmagne has placed seven times this season, yesterday's win was his first since scoring at Alexandra Park in February last year.

“He’s coming into winning form at exactly the right time,” Kennett said.

Valmagne, who is based at Craig and Josh Kennett’s Cambridge satellite stable, proved too good for his eight opponents in the feature trot - the Clegg's Handicap for the R50 and faster trotters.

Valmagne, the sole 35m back-marker, was a pronounced $1.80 favourite because the public knew his class would take him a long way in the $7,000 event.

At the end of the 2500m stand the 9-year-old and driver Scott Phelan had one-and-a-quarter lengths to spare over runner-up, Harry H (Jay Abernethy).

The chestnut son of Sundon stopped the clock in 2:59.4 (mile rate 2:17.4) and he came home in 68.3 and 33.2. Valmagne has now won 13 of his 137 starts and placed in 39 others for $223,027.

"He's the sort of horse who thrives on racing. If he could race every week he would. You look at his record fresh - it isn't much. He gets better with racing. He just keeps toiling away.

"I thought he would be close to a win because he hasn't had too much luck go his way in recent starts. I'm just stoked for Dad (Craig) who has put all the hard yards into him," Kennett said.

I really hope he enjoys those big races in Auckland and can go close again," he added.

The big 'Group One' races Kennett was referring to were the $80,000 Anzac Cup and the $150,000 Rowe Cup at Alexandra Park on April 21 and 28 respectively.

With the big guns like Monbet, Speeding Spur and Master Lavros missing Kennett sees no reason why Valmagne can’t at least emulate his feat of last year.

“He finished second behind Monbet in last year’s Rowe Cup and that was pretty special because it was our first Rowe Cup starter. There’s no Monbet there this year, so who knows?” Kennett said.

Meanwhile the Arna Donnelly trained and driven Imajollywally won the feature event at the Hawera two-day meeting - the $12,000 South Taranaki Club Hawera Cup.

It was Imajollywally's 11th career win, fourth this season - and second at Hawera. He and Donnelly also won on the track on January 8.

The Hawera Cup was the last of the 13-race North Island Country Cups Series. The $25,000 final will be at Cambridge Raceway on April 25 (Anzac Day).

The Nicky Chilcott trained Razor Brogden and The Tony Herlihy (MNZM) trained Queen Lostris were the only horses to win on both days of the meeting.

For the record the Dave Iremonger trained Speedy Earl raced three times in three days at Hawera.

The son of trained Speedy Earl finished fifth on the first day, and then won and placed on day two.

On Monday Speedy Earl was the $13.50 sixth favourite and won the first race by one-a-quarter lengths and then lined up seven races later and paid $7.50 for a third.

Trent Lethaby drove the brown gelding in all three of his Hawera starts.


Duane Ranger

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