By David Gilbert
STAR local apprentice Jacob Opperman took his career to another level on Wednesday when stepping up to the big stage by riding for the first time in Melbourne.
Opperman, who has ridden 23 metropolitan winners so far in South Australia this year – the latest was last Saturday at Morphettville – had four rides at Sandown.
Alas, there was no pot of gold at the end of the rainbow for the teenager at his Melbourne debut, with all of his mounts missing the placings.
“The opportunity for me to ride in Melbourne was too good to refuse,” Opperman told The Border Watch.
Opperman flew to Melbourne on Monday afternoon and returned yesterday.
“On Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday morning I was given the opportunity to ride track work for the Ellerton/Zahra stable at Flemington which was a great experience,” he said.
Meanwhile, the racing fraternity was saddened to learn of the death of former jockey Chris Bryant recently in Adelaide.
Bryant, who was only in his late 30’s, rode here in the Limestone Coast as an apprentice and senior jockey and won the jockey’s premiership in 2007-08 with 18 winners.
He was undoubtedly one of the most talented riders I have ever seen in this region but his off-track issues curtailed what could have been a brilliant career.
PACERS OUR SHINING LIGHT
WHILE our gallopers are having a lean time winning in the city at present, not so our pacers.
For the third Saturday in succession, locally trained horses propped up the city meeting at Globe Derby Park last weekend and did so in style.
The Steve Fennell owned and trained Vain Mara ($4.40) made it successive city wins with an all-the-way victory in the NR 74 pace, beating fellow local Emain Macha.
Don’t Need An Excuse from the Ray Lattin stable, possibly the most in-form pacer in the state at present, made it a hat-trick of wins in as many weeks by also leading all the way in the NR 50-59 pace.
Meanwhile the very sad state of affairs for harness racing in South Australia continues.
The co-share harness meeting scheduled for this Sunday (July 4) has been cancelled when neither the Mount Gambier or Port Pirie clubs could attract enough entries.
CLOSEST FINISH EVER
LAST Sunday’s penultimate race meeting of the Limestone Coast season at Naracoorte shed no light as to a couple of premierships to be decided before August 1.
On their home terrain, trainers Sue Murphy and the Sue and Jason Jaensch combination were tipped to have at least one winner between them on the seven-race program.
But, both stables headed home without a winner which means the trainer’s title will be decided at the final meeting of the local season at Bordertown next Wednesday.
You have never seen a tighter finish at the end of a season as the Jaensch’s and Murphy are, according to our records, locked together on 16 wins and 14 seconds each, and are only separated by the number of third placings.
The Jaensch stable have 17 thirds, just one placing more than Murphy, with Darryl Dodson out of the premiership equation back on 13 wins.
It is almost as close in the battle for the restricted trainer’s premiership, with three trainers still capable of claiming the title.
First-year trainer Yasmin Black (Naracoorte) has jumped to the lead, thanks to a brilliant effort by Outinthestreet to win the final race at Naracoorte.
At the seven-year-old gelding’s first run this campaign in the 1430-metre BM 54 handicap, Outinthestreet came from second last at the 700 metres to round up his rivals with ease in the final furlong.
Black, thanks to a dead heat at Penola back in December (also with Outinthestreet), is half a win ahead of Scott Irlam (Bordertown) and Ricky Bruhn (Mount Gambier).
It must be pointed out the premiership ladders listed above are those compiled by The Border Watch and not necessarily gospel.
FLEW THE FLAG FOR WALKER FAMILY
RACING at Naracoorte was conducted on officially a Soft 7 surface, but general consensus from those involved was that it was definitely in the heavy range.
Taking the honours for the day were trainers Darryl Dodson and Richard Nicholson along with senior jockey Jeff Maund, all with winning doubles.
There was plenty of sentiment associated with the popular win by Bear Arms in the 2000-metre BM 58 handicap.
The five-year-old mare grows another leg on rain affected going and was backed accordingly from $8.50 into $4.40.
Bear Arms carried the colours of the Walker family from Millicent and the mare’s easy win was the first for the family since Ned and Nan Walker were killed in a road accident over seven months ago.
Bear Arms is a much-travelled racehorse as she was transferred just prior to Christmas to the Port Lincoln stable of Simon Drewitt, but the firm tracks on the Eyre Peninsula saw her winless from eight starts.
From there, Bear Arms headed to the Jimmy Dodgson stable at Bordertown for two runs, but with Dodgson having a small break from racing, she is now with Murray Bridge trainer Jordon Frew.
Ride of the day at Naracoorte went to apprentice Jacob Opperman who never left the rails at any stage and brought Comrade Bill from the rear of the field for a comfortable win in the 1000-metre maiden.
Black bookers from the meeting are Bear Arms (now the tracks are wet) and Uncle Bob (flew home for third).
HAVING two race meetings within 120 kilometres on the same day is poor programming and is simply asking for trouble.
So, it came as no surprise last Sunday’s meeting at Casterton (in particular) suffered attendance wise as it clashed with Naracoorte.
In my 45 years of going to Casterton, the crowd was the smallest I have seen at a weekend meeting there.
Many of the Casterton regulars who attend from Mount Gambier instead headed to Naracoorte on Sunday.
Steve Pateman had long been recognised as the best jumps jockey in Australia and rode a winning double, one over the hurdles and the other on the flat, to share the riding honours on the day with Aaron Micthell.
To show how versatile he is, Pateman also trained a winning double and supplied the trifecta in the steeplechase.
“It is the first time I have ever trained a trifecta and it has been a great day,” Pateman stated after his near-perfect ride to win on Artika Klasse in the 1800-metre maiden plate.
Pateman is permitted to ride horses trained by himself, but not if the stable has more than one runner in a race.
Local trainer Jamie Opperman was the best of the Limestone Coast trainers with runners at Casterton and had to settle for a dead heat in the 2000-metre 0-58 handicap when the judge could not separate his runner Milga Lil from the Tom Gilcrist trained Written Rulz.
Sunday, July 4: Mount Gambier trots (cancelled due to lack of entries).
Wednesday, July 7: Bordertown gallops.