By David Gilbert
AFTER seven years as general manager of the Mount Gambier Racing Club, Brett Watson has opted to pursue a career away from racing.
All up, Watson has been involved for around 14 years with the MGRC, his earlier involvement as a committeeman.
Already the position has been advertised and the response has been very pleasing, according to MGRC president Peter George.
“There has been plenty of interest in the position both locally and from away,” George said.
Watson has seen plenty of changes over the years and worked with three presidents, John Fartch, John O’Connor and Peter George.
“There have been numerous highlights and the main one is obviously the new track upgrade,” Watson stated.
“Then there was the upgrade of the complex upstairs and the fact that we can now race right through winter.
“I will be taking a couple of weeks off prior to commencing my new job.”
That will be with a Mount Gambier business and his last day out at Glenburnie will be Thursday, February 22.
ANOTHER ACHIEVEMENT FOR OPPERMAN
BARELY a week goes by these days without locally born and bred apprentice Jacob Opperman being in the racing headlines in this state.
The 20-year-old has now lost his claim at all levels of racing, namely at country, provincial and metropolitan level.
Up until shortly after 3pm last Saturday, Opperman could still claim 1.5 kilograms in the city, but that disappeared following his win aboard the Andrew Bobbin (Stawell) trained Thailess ($10) at Morphettville Parks.
That was his 21st city winner this season and it means he now joins the senior rank of jockeys.
“It’s going to be a tough job, but I’ll keep chipping away,” Opperman said post race.
“It’s great to outride the claim and it’s been a long time coming, but I’m really glad it happened.
“I’ve got to thank mum and dad, they’ve been a great support from day one, my girlfriend (Tayla), she’s always been there for me and my manager Nadia (Horne).”
Opperman’s great run of success continued at Balaklava last Monday where he rode a double.
ON THE BALL
PUNTERS who study the form closely should have cleaned up with two of the winners at Glenburnie last week.
Both were at short odds, but really did look to be good bets judging on their previous run and were backed accordingly.
The Paul Preusker trained Hot Suspect ($2.20-$1.75 fav.) won the summer cup here on January 21 and dropped back considerably in class to compete in the 2050-metre BM 66 handicap last week.
Likewise in the following race, Dale’s Rocket from the Vanessa Hutchinson stable dropped substantially in grade following his gutsy second to Thrill Kill in the Coonawarra Cup (BM 76) at Penola on January 11.
Dale’s Rocket found himself back in BM 58 company at Gelnburnie and was well weighted with 58.5 kilograms following the four kilogram claim for Victorian apprentice Beau Treloar.
Treloar was able to dictate terms out in front and Dale’s Rocket ($2.50-$2.20 fav.) franked that Coonawarra Cup form to win his fourth race, two of those in the month of January.
At Murray Bridge on Wednesday, the Jeff Searle (Bordertown) trained The Penske File ($7.50) deservedly broke through for his first win in the 1600-metre maiden.
The Penske File virtually won the race twice, firstly in a close photo finish and then again in the stewards room when a double protest (from second and third placegetters) was eventually dismissed.
SINCE Mount Gambier was promoted to provincial racing level (with better prize money on offer) earlier this century, western Victorian trainers have reacted accordingly and brought their horses to race here.
That was never more evident than last week when the Victorians dominated the seven-race card at Glenburnie, with six of their trainers in the winner’s enclosure.
Likewise, six races went to four Victorian jockeys led by apprentices Jordyn Weatherby and Ryan Houston with doubles.
For the Warrnambool based Weatherby, it was her first ever double and the seventh win of her brief career.
Stawell trainer Andrew Bobbin is making a habit of bringing off a plunge when he ventures this side of the border.
At Penola on January 11, the Bobbin trained Ibutho was backed from $12 into $2.60 favourite before winning the 1400-metre maiden.
Last week at Glenburnie, stablemate Earl Of Bantry met with heavy support ($6-$3.10 fav.) before taking out the 1400-metre maiden plate.
Stewards upgraded the track from a Good 4 to a Good 3 after race four, but the times run indicated it was much firmer than that.
Hot Suspect, Dale’s Rocket, Carry On Camping and Bon’s Your Back all went within a second of breaking the track record in winning their respective races.
Black bookers from Glenburnie are Hot Suspect (very impressive how he put paid to his rivals so quickly) and Quik Rhapid (good thing beaten in the final race).
STRIKE RATE FURTHER IMPROVED
NARACOORTE trainer Greg Scholefield’s incredible winning strike at Globe Derby Park in the past 13 months improved even further last Sunday evening.
Scholefield took two runners to the meeting and achieved the perfect result when both pacers were easy all-the-way winners with Gaita Pullicino in the sulky.
Not that you would have been able to retire with the prices of both winners, but it was money for jam for those who backed Mikicool ($1.75 fav.) and track specialist Hanging Fire ($1.40 fav.)
At Hamilton last Friday, local stables came home with two winners in the space of 40 minutes.
The Barry Finnis trained Royal Speech ($8.50) made it two wins from his past three starts thanks to a masterly drive from concession driver Lochie Cook in the NR 60-69 pace.
Then Yappas Courage ($16) chalked up his 10th career win in the NR 55-60 pace at his second run from a nine month spell.
The David Kemp trained gelding won at Hamilton on May 1, 2023 before going for a long break, and driver Matthew Craven brought Yappas Courage with a well timed run from mid field to get the chocolates.
TROTS TONIGHT/GALLOPS SUNDAY
THE lead up to the Mount Gambier gold cup for pacing (on Saturday, March 16) starts tonight with a six race card at the Greenwald Paceway with the first race at 6.15pm and the last at 6.49pm.
On Sunday, it is Naracoorte cup day for the gallops and the club will be blessed with ideal weather.
Farooq heads the weights and will be endeavouring to give Naracoorte trainer Sue Murphy her third hometown cup success.