Day At The Track

Rigondeaux notches third win of the year

03:58 AM 03 Apr 2020 NZDT
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Rigondeaux's comeback to racing continues to gather momentum, with the four-year-old notching up his third win of the year on Wednesday for his co-trainers Maddie Ray and Haydon Gray.
Kieran Iles Photo

The old saying 'make hay while the sun shines' has never been more applicable to Bendigo region harness racing participants than it was on Wednesday.

With the sport in Victoria moving to a new region-based operating model from today, yesterday provided the last opportunity for trainers and drivers to notch up wins at venues outside of their own designated area.

Plenty rose to the challenge.

At Stawell, young reinsman Jayden Brewin scored a driving double aboard Fowsands and Wingate Guy, while the exciting young training combination of Maddie Ray and Haydon Gray picked up their third victory this year with Rigondeaux.

A prolific run continued Wednesday night at Shepparton, where Inglewood trainer Grant Innes struck with the in-form trotter Vincent Kai, and Elmore's Matthew Higgins notched up a victory with the five-year-old mare Lilnova.

For the foreseeable future, trainers and drivers from the Bendigo region (encompassing the Greater Bendigo, Buloke, Central Goldfields, Loddon and Mount Alexander local government areas) will be restricted to solely competing at Lord's Raceway, starting this Friday night.

In the sulky for Rigondeaux's impressive 3.3m win, co-trainer Maddie Ray said she was glad to see 'the locals' make the most of their last chance to race at tracks outside this region.

Race 3 won by number 10 Rigondeaux. Driven and trained by Maddi Ray. Mile rate 2:04.9. 

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She felt only time would tell whether it would be any harder or easier for trainers such as themselves to find a winner under the revised format.

"If you look at the two trot races this Friday night (the Aldebaran Park Trot and Vale Colin Redwood Trot), there were more nominations than horses that could get a run," she said.

"We'll just have to see how the racing and the programming goes.

"Hopefully there are a few races where we can get another winner, we will just see what happens.

"We've got five horses in work, three two-year-olds and two older trotters, which keeps us plenty busy.

"We have got a few in the paddock we are trying to think what we do with, but we are happy to keep the numbers down a little bit."

Ray could not hide her delight at the progress of Rigondeaux, a four-year-old, whose three wins, from 15 starts, have all been this year, starting at Kilmore on January 2 and quickly followed by another 14 days later at the same venue.

The Majestic Sun/Galleons Bliss gelding had not raced for nearly six months before his breakthrough Kilmore win, but has since developed into a remarkably consistent trotter with seemingly plenty of upside.

A steady and productive first three months of the year for Rigondeaux has reaped three wins and four placings from eight starts, his only real blemish a seventh at Charlton in mid-March.

"Hayden and I couldn't be happier that he's so consistent, he tries his guts out every time he goes around," Ray said.

"I guess the main thing is he is getting more confident with each run.

"Charlton was only his bad run, but we can't really hold that against him. He galloped at the start and had a few excuses with a false start, it was just one of those days.

"He's pretty sensitive if something goes wrong, but he has been unreal this time in.

"Hopefully he keeps it going."

By Kieran Iles 

Reprinted with permission of The Bendigo Advertiser

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