Thursday, 14 July 2011
Gold Coast jockey Paul Hammersley has had a field day at Grafton, steering home three winners including Warrior Within
to claim the Grafton Cup and Sister Havana in the feature sprint, the Sir James Kirby Handicap.
Hammersley had not previously ridden a winner at the carnival but put that right early on Thursday on Sister Havana's Liam Birchley-trained stablemate Devils Melody.
With a question mark over Warrior Within
's ability to run out the 2350 metres, Hammersley stuck to the inside route on Warrior Within
($26) as Gold In Dubai ($4.20) drifted to the centre of the track.
The tactic proved a winning one with Warrior Within
hitting the line three-quarters of a length in front of Gold In Dubai with Shuffle The Cash ($6) another half-length away third and $3.50 favourite The Verminator fourth.
"It's sensational," Hammersley said. "I knew he struggled at the trip so I decided to stay to the inside and it worked out."
Trainer Bruce Hill targeted the Listed Grafton Cup after Warrior Within
won the Murwillumbah Cup two starts earlier.
"Things worked out and I'm proud of the horse," Hill said.
"The firmer ground helped him. It's brilliant."
Hill spent almost a decade as Gerald Ryan's right-hand man at the Gold Coast and took over his Ascot Lodge stable when Ryan moved to Sydney.
Ipswich Cup winner Gold In Dubai also finished second in the Caloundra Cup won by Spechenka who finished fifth at Grafton.
Sister Havana's win in the Sir James Kirby (1000m) was the filly's first since January 2010 when she took out the Karaka Million at Ellerslie in New Zealand.
"She has had a wind operation and has also been a very hard filly to place since that win in New Zealand," Birchley said.
"The 1000 metres with the light weight (54kg) suited her and it was a terrific ride."
Sister Havana ($3.90) dug deep to overhaul favourite Master Gaze ($3.40) after both came in for heavy attention in the betting ring, each firming from $6.
"I've been coming here since about 2000, not every year but I've probably had about 30 rides without success before today," Hammersley said.
"Now I'm going home with three, it's great."
The winner of the 2002 Group One Queensland Guineas on the Ryan-trained Mon Mekki, Hammersley attributed his recent run of good form to riding better horses and said he hoped to capitalise on that by concentrating on metropolitan racing next season.
Earlier in the day, the Jenny Graham-trained Leviosa picked up a $50,000 bonus for winning the Inglis two-year-old race.
It was the second big race win in two months for the Port Macquarie-based Graham who prepared Alcancia to win the $100,000 Scone Challenge in May.