AN overcast day dawned over the Sale Turf Club for it’s eight-race meet on Sunday, January 14.

The track was originally graded as a Soft 5 to start proceedings, assumably due to rain throughout the week, but was soon upgraded to a Good 4 after Race 2.

WILLMOTT for Ballarat’s Archie Alexander was a smooth operator in the Race 1 Sanlam Wealth Maiden Plate over 1400 metres, leading from start to finish.

It wasn’t always smooth sailing, as Willmott was joined for company by Haraldus, who remained in close quarters for the entire race.

Willmott jumped best on the inside, maintain his lead throughout, and despite oncoming pressure from Haraldus, he remained calm.

It did get close toward the end, but it was Willmott who got his first win under his belt, in just the second race of his career, the first after a 21-week spell.

Willmott reached the line around half a length ahead of Haraldus, the two more than four lengths ahead of the other seven in the field.

Jenni Of Avalon for Sale’s Paul Worthington had no luck whatsoever, finishing last, over 16 lengths behind the leaders.

THINGS were much closer in Race 2’s Higgins Machinery & Mechanical Services Maiden Plate (1600m), with three horses vying for the win at the dying stages.

The race was led early by Classic Story for Sale’s Heather Stephens, with a number of others wanting the early lead.

Soon, the script was flipped, with four horses emerging from the rear of the field, all making a charge for the line.

Lukan for Caulfield’s Mick Price and Michael Kent Jr found the front on the straight with about 250m to run but was challenged by Kuroshinzo and Slippery Rich.

The four-year-old gelding looked like he would be overtaken on the outside, but stuck fat and held on for his maiden win.

Lukan kept his 100 per cent placing record intact, after coming second on debut, following it up with a win in his second race.

Kuroshinzo finished a head behind, Slippery Rich a head further back in an intense finish.

Absolute Deal was close, but not close enough, finishing fourth.

Lunar Frost for Sale’s Rebecca Kelly was stuck in the midfield, and when the eventual leaders took the front, she fell further back.

Stephens’ Classic Story, who led the early stages, fell to the back finishing last, over 12 lengths behind.

HEY Fat Cat made it look easy in the Race 3 Carlton Draught 3YO Maiden Plate (1200m), winning by over seven lengths.

As soon as the field rounded the final bend onto the straight, Hey Fat Cat for Cranbourne’s Robbie Laing bolted ahead, leaving the field in the dust.

It was the first win for Hey Fat Cat, coming in his fifth race after never placing before in his career.

In such an open field, the $4.40 favourite finished fifth, while the $5 second favourite finished sixth.

The trifecta would have paid out favourably for those who backed the roughies in this one.

With the field so stretched, it was a tough one for Kelly’s Cruyffa, who was stuck in last for majority of the race, finishing nearly 24 lengths behind the leader.

BOY was it a tight battle up the front in Race 4’s Fantasy Cocktails Maiden Plate (1100m).

It was a feisty sprint with all top five runners having a shot at the win, with it coming down to the wire.

Dominant Miss started well and could’ve nearly had the lead on the straight but fell back to fifth.

Gracious Diva for Sale’s Susie Wells and Raven’s Silver looked to be making a late charge, but left it too late, finishing fourth and third respectively.

Thus, leaving an almighty battle between My Name Is and Our Malyshka, who traded positions multiple times in the lead in to the line.

My Name Is held firm on the rail, looking comfortable as close in as the 150m mark, but Our Malyshka came from the middle of the track, storming into the lead right at the last.

The three-year-old filly, paying $10, upset the firm favourite of My Name Is, to win by just under a length on debut.

Injair for Moe’s Paul and Tracey Templeton filled the midfield for most of the race, finishing sixth.

ANOTHER sprint, another comfortable winner in Race 5’s Colmac Homes BM64 Handicap (1000m).

I Miss Margie trotted in first for the entire race to claim the second win of her eight-race career, doing so by nearly four lengths.

She held firm throughout the race, doing enough to keep the rest of the field behind, before bolting on the straight and galloping over the line in first.

Moonlight Rustler for Sale’s Bill Wood was a length off the top three, coming fourth, while his other runner, I’m Cheeky, came fifth.

SIX horses finished within two lengths of the lead in the Race 6 Sanlam Wealth BM58 Handicap (1200m).

This race could have easily gone six different ways, as horses came from the back of the field to challenge those up the front.

Juice Box for Kelly led in the early stages, all of the way around under the field reached the straight.

She was soon outrun by some charging horses: Big Darryl and Magic Drum, all while another three horses were chasing the tail of Juice Box.

Big Darryl came from as far back as fourth, while Magic Drum for Bairnsdale’s Kasey Wilson was sixth at the 800m mark.

Magic Drum took the lead at the 200m, and despite a challenge from Big Daryl, she had done enough for the victory.

Other local finishers included Luv A Duck for Sale’s Damien Walkley, who finished in eighth, climbing from ninth.

IT was a storming effort from Aria Electra for Moe’s Peter Gelagotis in Race 7’s Vale Life Member Peter Gray BM64 Handicap (1717m).

The five-year-old mare started well, but soon found herself stuck in the midfield as they turned onto the final straight, and it was going to take one hell of an effort to get home first from here.

She stayed toward the inside, before filing directly behind the leader, drifting to the right and drawing up alongside.

Aria Electra wins Race 7 at Sale Racecourse at the weekend.

Little Jack held firm at the front and did not make it easy for Aria Electra, who only completed the move into first with about 150m to go.

She got to the line first, beating Little Jack to it by a length.

Last to cross the line was Wiesenbach for Sale’s Kerry Farrugia, who dropped in position throughout the race from fifth to ninth to last.

TO round out the meet, what better than a photo finish between two late-charging horses.

Race 8’s Ladbroke It! BM64 Handicap (1400m) literally came down to the wire with the winner winning by a nose.

New Hampshire was out of the gate thick and fast to take the lead, the $10 horse leading all of the way around to the straight, showing promise to the line.

It wasn’t to be his day thought, as Antarctic Ocean for the Templeton’s and Miss Keeler for Mornington’s Jim Conlan breached the lead.

Antarctic Ocean came from directly behind the leader, while Miss Keeler came from seven-wide to make the challenge.

Antarctic Ocean took the lead but was overrun by Miss Keeler at the final moment, outdone by a nose to the line.

What a way to finish the meet.

Racing returns to the Sale Turf Club on Tuesday, January 23 for another eight-race meet.

Check out the Kids Day Out coverage that took place same day as the races here: https://www.gippslandtimes.com.au/community/2024/01/16/kids-day-out-at-sale-turf-club/