WET weather made conditions tough for most horses contesting Wednesday’s race meeting at Sale.
The Greenwattle track began the meet rated “soft six” before being downgraded to “soft seven” after the first race, then to “heavy eight” for race six. Rainfall throughout the day led to late scratchings.
The weather further dampened Sale Turf Club’s Life Members Raceday, which was already without spectators because of COVID restrictions.
Admittance to the course was limited to trainers, jockeys, racing officials and essential staff.
From Friday, up to 150 people are permitted on country courses, with spectators only living in regional Victoria permitted.
Each of the eight races on Wednesday was named in honour of Sale Turf Club life members.
The highlight for locals came in the opening race, the Wayne Pollock-Bill Jones Maiden Plate over 2232 metres, which was won by Mount Santubong in his 16th start for 91-year-old local trainer Colin Butcher.
Mount Santubong battled for the lead with another local, Raid The
Bar, trained by Sharyn Trolove, before the four-year-old gelding, ridden by Carleen Hefel, moved away in the home straight to claim victory by just under two lengths from The Ronin
Dreams. Raise The Bar finished fourth.
With restrictions still in place, the omen bet of the day got up in race seven, the John Allman Benchmark 64 Handicap (1736m).
With heavy rain falling, race favourite Facemask, trained by Peter Moody at Pakenham, was ridden to the front by Damian Lane before clearing away in the home straight to win by three and a quarter lengths.
The four-year-old gelding was coming off a second placing at Sandown to win his first win since October.
Sharp Response, trained by Julius Sandhu at Cranbourne and ridden by Beau Mertens, won on debut in race two, the David Wilson-Tony Hart Two-Year-Old Maiden Plate over 1108m.
The two-year-old gelding, who was $20.40 at the tote, came home well to finish ahead of Tranquil Bay.
Gulf Of Aden led by two lengths heading in the home straight, but
staggered late to finish fourth.
Race three, the Thelma Coster Maiden Plate (1108m), was won by favourite Veranskova, trained by Cindy Alderson at Cranbourne and ridden by Ben Melham.
Returning from a 27-week spell, having finished second in her only previous run, the three-year-old filly chased down Pelorus Princes to win at the post.
Felix Fiorente, who was $21.70 at the tote, proved his love for wet conditions to win race four, the Helen Cantwell Maiden Plate (1419m).
As the rest of the field went towards the outside of the track, the three-year-old colt, trained by Ray Besanko at Cranbourne and ridden by Josh Richards, maintained an inside line to win by four and a half lengths from favourite Stonefield.
Slipintothis, trained by Patrick Payne at Ballarat and ridden by Billy Egan, won race five, the 2232m Peter Gray Benchmark 66 Handicap.
The four-year-old gelding, who won at Echuca and placed second at Bendigo in his previous two runs, hit the lead at the top of the home straight and charged ahead to win by almost three lengths.
Returning from an 18-week spell, I’m Thunderstruck made up for
a poor start to win race six, the Max Blakiston-Ian Rees Class One Handicap (1208m).
The three-year-old gelding, trained by Mick Price and Michael Kent at Caulfield and ridden by Mark Zahra, worked his way through the field, then picked up a gear to claim a second win from three starts by three and a half lengths.
Another three-year-old gelding, Tadashi Hamada, ridden by Daniel
Stackhouse, edged out Skywolf to win the final race of the day, the Anthony Lee Benchmark 64 Handicap over 1419m, for Cranbourne trainer Shea Eden.
The next meeting at Greenwattle Racecourse will be on Friday, July 9.