Clayton Douglas’ marvellous May has continued, with the dual-licensed horseman winning the $125,000 Australian Steeplechase at Sandown.
Douglas stalked the speed aboard Riding High for trainer Henry Dwyer and never looked like losing at the finish despite jumping the last in a line of three with Rexmont and Michelin.
Riding High, a $30,000 “leap of faith” for Dwyer, who bought the Raise The Flag gelding from New Zealand, sprinted clear for a seven-length victory from hot favourite Michelin.
It caps a memorable month for Douglas, both on and off horseback.
The 26-year-old won a second Grand Annual Steeple on Gold Medals at Warrnambool on May 6, then trained three winners from seven starters, including a first at Flemington, inside a fortnight.
“I’m working really hard,” Douglas, who trains the horses with star jockey and fiancee Jamie Kah said.
“I’ve got a great bunch of people supporting me and I’ve got a good group of staff.
“That’s what you need – a lot of good people behind the scenes and I’m very appreciative.”
Riding High gave Douglas his second Sandown jumps feature after winning the 2018 Australian Hurdle.
The seven-year-old gelding, who was eased out of a BM120 steeplechase at the Bool, jumped keenly early but eventually found a winning rhythm.
“He jumped terrific and jumped himself into the race,” Douglas said.
“I thought I had the leader covered, I just didn’t know where the favourites were.
“I had a peep over my shoulder and still felt like I was going pretty good.
“He’s a tough horse … he ran out a strong trip today and probably overdid it a touch early … he’s going to be a nice Brierley horse next year.”
Michelin, the $2 favourite, ran on for second from a tiring Rexmont.
Riding High has won the Australian Steeplechase with Grand Annual winning jockey @Dougie_5 aboard! pic.twitter.com/cYuYlnlg3k
Bit Of A Lad, who won the race last year, was eased down during the second lap after jumping poorly.
Dwyer had planned to take Riding High to Hamilton on June 1 for a $30,000 race, in search of a confidence booster, but elected to “roll the dice” with the Australian Steeple after the acceptances.
“You win Group 1s and that sort of stuff but there’s no greater feeling than winning a feature jumps race with a nice horse,“ dual Group 1-winner Dwyer said.
“It’s a good sport, the jumps enthusiasts love it. Whether it’s risk and reward, I don’t know, but winning a jumps race is a huge thrill.”
Douglas has four runners nominated to run on Wednesday at Sandown — including smart Flemington winner Mimosas.
Meanwhile, Mr Coyne was withdrawn from the Steeple after stewards imposed a $750 fine on dual-state trainer Nick Smart for keeping the horse at a property near Geelong where he’s not licensed to train from.
Saunter Boy announced himself as a hurdler to be reckoned with, running out a comprehensive 10-length winner in the $125,000 Australian Hurdle at Sandown on Sunday.
Champion jockey Steven Pateman made the early moving, coasting to the front in the back straight and dictated the race from there.
Second favourite Valac loomed as a threat before Saunter Boy bolted down the hill to break his rivals hearts.
Pateman wasted no time putting his hand up for the seat in the Grand National Hurdle in August.
“He’s a good galloper. He does a lot of trackwork gallops here so he knew where he was and he scooted down that hill and it was all over,” Pateman said.
“He’s up there with potentially being very good.
“I’d love to be on him in the Grand National Hurdle, all being well.”
Steven Pateman and Saunter Boy race clear in the Australian Hurdle at Sandown Lakeside. Photo: Vince Caligiuri/Getty ImagesSource:Getty Images
The win made up for Saunter Boy running fourth in the Galleywood Hurdle at Warrnambool after jumping erratically.
Trainers Ciaron Maher and David Eustace schooled the Australian Bloodstock-owned gelding over jumps in preparation for the Australian Hurdle.
“Just the first time with the big fish in the Galleywood, he jumped a little bit sticky but he was spot on today,” three-time Australian Hurdle winner Pateman said.
“Ciaron’s instructions were, for the first half of the race or even more, was to get his confidence back jumping so I was very quiet on him and just letting him figure it out.
“Then at the two (hurdles) at the top of the hill I was able to get into him and then he was right for the rest of the race.
“I’d love to be on him here in the Grand National Hurdle, that’s for sure.”
Earlier, progressive Andrew Noblet-trained jumper Out And Dreaming made it back-to-back wins over the fences, finishing too strongly for Eckhart and Mawaany Machine in the BM120 hurdle.
Originally published asDouglas snares second Steeplechase feature for the month
Source: Read Full Article