Valhulla, ridden by John Stephens, holds off a late charge from Annsman (foreground) to win the feature Class 5 Handicap.
Valhulla, ridden by John Stephens, holds off a late charge from Annsman (foreground) to win the feature Class 5 Handicap.

Valhulla leads all way

By GREGOR MACTAGGARTmactaggartg@gladstoneobserver.dyndns.org

THE TRIP down the Bruce Highway for just one ride was worth it for veteran jockey John Stephens when Valhulla held on to win the feature Class 5 handicap on a hot Saturday at Ferguson Park.

Starting as the outsider in a tight four-race field, Stephens punched Valhulla to the front at the start and from there he was never headed over the 1000 metre trip.

Bundaberg four-year-old Annsman tried valiantly down the straight, but his tendency to hang wide cost him any chance of victory.

Gladstone favourite Lord Glenbury loomed as a danger at the turn, but was unable to find another gear after his run in Rockhampton on Thursday and faded to third.

The warm conditions tested even the toughest of horses on the five-race program, but they didn't bother Andy's Shadow who scored his third career win (all in Gladstone) in the Class B handicap.

Aided by a gun ride from Dennis Whitmore, Andy's Shadow enjoyed a trip behind the leader Zoomerang, before peeling out in the straight and holding off the fast-finishing Wattapita by a neck.

It was a welcome return to form by the five-year-old in front of part-owner Gary McLennan.

"To win today was great, he didn't like it much last time which was a surprise because he has such a good record here,' McLennan said.

'All credit for the win has to go to Dennis, he had to ride him to the line and made sure of the win.'

Those smart punters who took the long odds offered on Sydney Jack certainly made themselves known when he held on in the lucky last.

Starting at $9, the Denis Schultz-trained gelding went straight to the front under the guidance of gun apprentice Luke Dillon and like Valhulla earlier in the day was never headed.

Gold Coast visitor Senart did his best, but had to settle for second, while Errol Street boxed on for third place.

Meanwhile, Chris McIver rode Chief Harmony to victory in the day's first race the Craiglea Stud Handicap. Full results in Sports Details on page 21



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