It was something of a double celebration when the Rodney Ollerton trained Safaris charged late to get the chocolates in the very last stride in the fifth race at Scone.
Safaries, now a five-year-old, was out of action for more than two years through injury before resuming on 21 January at Tamworth. The fact that the son of Animal Kingdom came back a winner that day stood to the enormous credit of both horse and trainer.
To do it again today, to go two from two this preparation, was all the more impressive, particularly as Safaries had to be fully extended in the straight to run down My Sister Carole. There was certainly no weakness there, and the horse was as game as anything in taking up the challenge when chasing from four to five lengths back in the home straight.
Throw jockey Samantha Clenton’s story into the mix and you only expand the ‘comeback’ theme all the more.
Clenton’s last ride before today was nine months ago, on Scone Cup day on May 15, 2020. On that day Clenton pulled up with severe back pain after guiding home a winner for her boss Kris Lees and after a long-haul treatment-wise, including surgery, she has now finally made her way back to the track.
There was certainly no rustiness in her ride on Safaries, or her judgement … in fact it was inch perfect ride.
After that first-up win, the punters didn’t miss Safaries who started as a clear favourite with Sportsbet at $1.85 and, while they would have had some anxious moments in the straight, the ‘comeback combination’ was simply too strong when it mattered most.