Gladstone jockey celebrates treble at Easter race day
GLADSTONE jockey Kelly Gates celebrated her first treble as a senior jockey in front of a packed house at Ferguson Park racecourse on Saturday.
Gates won on local trainer Denis Schultz's Superb Effort and Blaze To Fortune, as well as Gladstone trainer Michael Pearson's Dane Fire.
An enthusiastic, colourful and boisterous Easter Saturday crowd kept the strong ring of bookmakers busy, with the only outright favourite successful being Lee Kiernan's Northern Shift.
Gates's treble brought her career-winning tally to 95 but no doubt Saturday's highlight would have been the win on her favourite horse Blaze To Fortune.
Contesting the particularly strong field of sand-track specialists in the $10,000 Greg McCann Memorial Open (1194m), Gates probably produced the best ride of her career.
She positioned Blaze To Fortune superbly, having him trailing in second place on the rails behind speedy leader and eventual runner-up Otango.
Those two led the field early, with track stars Liberty Tycoon and Direct Debit run off their feet under huge weights.
Blaze To Fortune never left the fence and moved ahead of Otango at the 250-metre mark to win by one-and-a-half lengths.
Liberty Tycoon battled on for third, five-and-a-half lengths ahead of Direct Debit.
For Blaze To Fortune, the current Gladstone Turf Club Horse of the Year, it was his second successive win in the McCann Memorial.
It has taken Blaze To Fortune eight starts back from a spell to crack his 14th overall win - and his fifth from seven Ferguson Park starts - so now it is full steam ahead for owner-trainer Schultz.
"He is a good back-up horse so I'm looking at starting him in the $10,000 Emerald Cup (1600m) next Saturday," Schultz said.
Gates's first winner Superb Effort defied its sweat-sodden appearance and nuisance antics in the pre-race parade to lead throughout for an upset win in the Class 4 (1000m).
Superb Effort, a $35,000 yearling purchase, had previously won races in the northern NSW before failing in a number of starts for Schultz.
Presented in magnificent order by trainer Michael Pearson, the ride on the grey Dane Fever gelding Dane Fire in the BM 55 Handicap (1517m) was another Gates could be proud of.
Former Ferguson Park-based hoop Shane McGovern combined with in-form Rockhampton trainer Clint Garland to land dual winners.
Firstly they won the Maiden (850m) with $8 chance Wongaranda, before an all-the-way win on Niseko Gold in the Class B (1194m).
Wongaranda's win continued the success Garland is having with Back The Crown horses of Springsure's owner Nesta Squire.
Easter race results:
Race 1: 1st Wongaranda, 2nd Exclusive Kitty, 3rd Naripsa, 4th Minto's Destiny
Race 2: 1st Northern Shift, 2nd Sweet Little Filly, 3rd Water Force, 4th Permission Granted
Race 3: 1st Superb Effort, 2nd Base Jump, 3rd Legal Dancer, 4th Fomalstar
Race 4: 1st Niseko Gold, 2nd Marty, 3rd Embers Alert, 4th Shadows
Race 5: 1st Blaze To Fortune, 2nd Otango, 3rd Liberty Tycoon, 4th Direct Debit
Race 6: 1st Dane Fire, 2nd Southside, 3rd Milwaukee Belle, 4th Rytarga