Almanac Racing: On the Pace @ Yea

Maryanne and I set off, up the road, up into the hills, for the first picnic race meet at Yea this season. The picnics had been up and running around Victoria for a few weeks, now it was time for Yea to host a meeting.


We arrived on track , a sunny day, though a hint of unpredictable spring weather hung heavy. The rain had been heavy around Eastern Australia the 36  hours prior. Tracks as diverse as Naracoorte, Doomben and Gundagai, had run as heavy 10’s. Gundagai had the second day of its races abandoned. How would Yea fare from the weather? Any how that was a bridge to be crossed, metaphorically and literally,  later. The focus was how to do well on track.


I  thought about how best to invest. I decided I would focus on one jockey, that being Courtney Pace, Victoria’s reigning champion picnic jockey. The previous week she’d been on fire at Balnarring riding a treble. Winning form is good form. I looked at the my racebook/the board of riders, how many did she have? She was listed in having a ride in all six races though it was slightly different than that. In the second her mount Tynong Rocket was scratched. One less race for me to focus on. In the last she was initially down for two rides, Rum Ranger, the toppy, as well as Carlsen. You can ‘t ride two horses in the same race! However, Caitlyn King rode the later.


In the opener, a three horse race, Courtney saluted on the favourite, My Running Mate. An impressive second was run by the grey, Moorabool, a first starter.


In races three and four Courtney rode a pair of seconds. I was in front, adding to the pleasure of a nice day out. In race five she was on Solar Bravo. Though it hadn’t previously been in the placings over the distance of 2140m , it was placed in its run prior @ Healesville, so was in some sort of form.  Not today. It stuck with the leaders for most of the race before fading back to midfield. The winner here was Family Pride, a horse living up to its name. Trained by Shelley Kirkpatrick, husband Rob rod it to victory. It certainly gave the Kirkpatrick family something to be proud of.


The last race: the get out stakes.  Courtney was on Rum Ranger. I got it it the bookies @ $1-90, i thought that was a decent offer. It drifted out to $2-00. They jumped, off they ran. The rain that had been a possibility all day started arriving, gathering pace with the runners. Courtney’s horse set off on the pace, held its position, around the corner, into the last furlong and a half. Then the swoopers closed in, as did the rain. In the last few strides her horse was swamped, finishing in that most horrid of places: fourth. Swamped, was an appropriate word in many ways as the rain pelted down once the horses crossed the line. It really was the get out stakes as an almighty downpour meant drive now, or risk being waylaid there overnight.  The drive back was interesting to put it simply, as the downpour turned sections of the road into sodden, swampy expanses , to negotiate carefully.


Yea is a lovely track, nestled there in the Great Dividing Range. Denis Smith and the committee have done a marvellous job the last few years to have the track, with its surrounds, looking as pretty as  a picture. There’s two more meetings the for the season. Sunday December 10 sees the running of the Sister Olive handicap, over 3000m, only a furlong less than the Melbourne Cup and just as exciting. Saturday January 27 sees the final race meet for the season, the Yea Cup. Do yourselves a favour, pop up to one of these meetings, to enjoy the ambience, and excitement of picnic racing.


Country racing: it’s a great day out !




Announcing The Tigers Almanac 2017. Read all about it HERE.

Leave a Comment