It might have only been a six-race card at Benalla on Sunday, but the meeting drew some of racing’s big guns.
From Darren Weir to Lindsay Park’s David Hayes and Tom Dabernig.
It also proved to be a day for the jockeys as Jack Hill and apprentice Lachlan King both picked up doubles while every race went to a different trainer.
The two hoops dominated the day winning races three, four, five and six to turn a lazy Sunday afternoon into something of a pay day.
In the $22000 Jaclyn Symes State Member for Northern Victoria Maiden Plate over 1106m King got Mirimbah over the line with a strategic ride from an outside barrier.
‘‘I thought she would be hard to beat on the day, despite the draw and pretty soon after we jumped I managed to get across and sit outside the leader,’’ King said.
‘‘They towed us around the bend and when we straightened up for the run home she just proved too strong and hit the line really well.’’
Mirimbah is trained by Gerald Egan, King’s master, and the four-year-old mare has now had 10 starts, breaking its maiden on Sunday to go with its two seconds and two thirds, making it a consistent horse.
It also kept the young apprentice on a roll; King has now ridden 56 winners this calendar year.
In the fifth race on the card — the $18000 Lindsay Park Racing F&M BM58 Handicap over 1406m — King was given his first ride on seven-year-old mare Ecology, trained by Mick Cerchi.
The horse jumped well and showed a lot of early speed, forcing King to adjust his race plan and let her take up the running.
‘‘She got into a good rhythm, so I wasn’t unhappy to go to the front and always felt we had things under control,’’ King said.
‘‘And that’s how it worked out, I always knew we had enough to win and we were more than a length clear when we cross the line.’’
King’s career began almost a year ago to the day when he rode Bowie Rocks at an Echuca meeting on November 10.
That day he was watched by his famous jockey father Steven, a Melbourne Cup winner, and grandfather and former rider Alby.
His father has since retired, but King said he did not come and watch him very often as it made him too nervous.
‘‘I only need a few more winners and my apprentice claim will drop to 1.5kg, but that’s okay, it also means you are winning races,’’ he said.
King rates his win in the Murrumbidgee Cup at Wagga as the highlight of his career to date, but still has his sights set on emulating dad and being a winner on that first Tuesday in November.
Hill, who has been riding since 2006, launching his career with a first up win on Not Alarmed at Nhill, is still booting home winners as fast as he can.
Speaking from a local beach where he had been running his dog on a rare day off, Hill said he had been pretty confident of at least one win when he arrived at Benalla on Sunday.
But had to wait until the fourth of the day — the $18000 JAR Plumbing BM58 Handicap over 1606m — for that first win, with Above Authority saluting the judge.
Hill said he had ridden the four-year-old mare at her first start and thought she did a good job on Sunday.
‘‘We got up by more than three lengths, there was clear air between us and the rest of the field when we hit the line,’’ Hill said.
‘‘I thought the horse’s first up at Hamilton had been a good run and even though this was a small field she did everything she had to.
‘‘I like riding for Darren (Weir) as much as I can because he has really good horses, and a lot of them.’’
Hill did not get any starts during the Melbourne Cup carnival, with the influx of interstate and international jockeys, but was busy at bush meetings for the week.
And scoring his share of wins.
Including Smash the Gong, which took out the final race of the day in a nail-biting lunge on the line.
The $18000 Specsavers Benalla BM58 Handicap run over 1206m went exactly as Hill had predicted at the five-year-old gelding’s previous run.
‘‘The horse had done well first up this time in and then at Swan Hill, when I rode him, showed he was good enough but had terrible luck in the running,’’ Hill said.
‘‘After I got off him that day I told trainer Barry Goodwin if his horse drew a good gate in a similar race he would be hard to beat,’’ he said.
‘‘He got away well and we got the box seat for the ride, which was good as there was a lot of pressure during the race.
‘‘Then we got a lovely split at the top of the straight and he went straight through it and we did enough to hold the others off for the win.’’
●The next Benalla meeting is the LJ Hooker Benalla Twilight Christmas Party Races on December 2.