The Victorian Jumps Racing Season kicked off at a wet Warrnambool on Monday where three jumps races were decided as the first three races on the card.
Eric Musgrave, a trainer whose name is synonymous with jumps racing, wasted no time in posting winners on the scoreboard, with his stable taking out two of the three jumps races, including the season opener … a BM125 Steeplechase over 3450m … in which the longer priced of Musgrave’s two runners, Zataglio at $16, beat out his better fancied stable companion Lucques ($7.50) by the narrowest of margins in a spirited, stride for stride battle. Aaron Lynch saluted on the winner.
The Steeplechase was only a four horse contest with the favourite Ascot Red ($2) unable to do any better than finish a struggling third 9.10 lengths behind the winner, while the second favourite Steam Roller ($2.35) trialled in a distant last.
By contrast the Open Hurdle (over 3200m) provided a totally different finish with the Aaron Purcell trained Double Bluff turning the race into a procession.
Once Tom Ryan sent Double Bluff (the $3.40 favourite) past the tiring frontrunner Rexmont on the home turn it was ‘race over’ and Double Bluff powered away putting no less than fourteen lengths between himself and the second placed Coleridge.
Eric Musgraves’s second winner came in the firm of Cheners in the Maiden Hurdle over 3200m.
It was a case of persistence paying off as Cheners ($3.20 favourite) was scoring his first jumps win at his seventeenth attempt. Darryl Horner (Jnr) took the honours in the saddle, pushing Cheners past the game Hitch Hiker Jamie when it mattered most to secure an overdue victory.
Terang, on 18 March, is next on the jumps racing schedule.