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Robinson aims for Cup success

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BY ALEX TIGANI

Andrew Robinson would love to win a Bengalla Cup.

After a lifetime of watching the race from the outer the Muswellbrook trainer now has a chance of making the dream a reality this Sunday.

That is provided his runner ‘Trophies Galore’ can replicate her winning form from the earlier this year.

“Obviously, our farmers need rain but we are hoping for a soft range so we will be ready to run,” Robinson told The Hunter River Times this week.

“I remember I was only a young fella when Bengalla started up here and over time our two industries have learnt how to work together.”

“I would love to win but if it does turn out heavy it will make it difficult for us.”

Last year he and John Ramsey celebrated a maiden double at the inaugural Hunter race day when Trophies Galore ($9.50) finished strongly to win by three-quarters of a length from the Jeremy Gask-trained Weather Channel.

He would then take out the Wayne Harris handicap in March this year.

Andrew Robinson pictured with Trophies Galore ahead of this Sunday’s Bengalla Cup.

“She had a few issues before that and sort of went into the championships trying to win races and was knocked around a little bit at Tamworth,” he recalled.

“We then backed her up in the Wayne Harris which is a lovely race to win because he was an apprentice to Pat Farrell and won the Melbourne Cup on Jeune.”

The mare has also placed on four occasions in the four months since.

“We tried to get her over for the Aberdeen Cup in June but the heavy track didn’t suit and she finished third,” he explained.

“We honestly thought we would go into that race with a very good chance but unfortunately with that weather once again it’s just going to hold us up that little much longer.”

Regardless of this Sunday’s outcome, Robinson admits the occasion will be one to remember.

“We have great owners who also deserve the credit in the lead up,” he concluded.

“The stables don’t operate without owners and we have been fortunate with the commitment from them given recent obstacles.

“They know we’re genuinely there to have a crack this Sunday.”

**Images courtesy of Muswellbrook Race Club / Katrina Partridge Photography.

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Kavanagh claims emotional Coffs Harbour Cup victory

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BY ALEX TIGANI

Muswellbrook trainer Sam Kavanagh held back tears of joy moments after his recent purchase Sikandarabad won the $150,000 Carlton Draught Coffs Harbour Cup on Thursday.

“It is very hard to regroup and start from scratch again and when you are paying a bit of money for these horses without owners it’s a ballsy thing to do,” Kavanagh told The Hunter River Times.

“To win a feature cup when we only had our first runner less than two months ago on June 25 is pretty exciting and hopefully we can continue to build on it.”

Kavanagh’s intriguing back story made the win all-the-more intriguing this week.

He was successful in applying for licence reapplication (following a ban set in 2015) in May and from there his stable grew from an initial amount of five horses to 24 by early July.

On Saturday July 24, Kavanagh finally returned to the winners’ stables thanks to the Andrew Gibbons ridden Dancing Dollar.

Then came his memorable afternoon at Coffs Harbour this week.

“I was on my own, you couldn’t see the whole race live from where I was and the caller basically called the favourite the winner,” Kavanagh explained.

“I was looking for the yellow colours and as soon as I saw him coming down the outside, I knew this was his race to basically lose.

“He hadn’t won in 529 days so its hard to get overconfident with a horse that hasn’t won for so long.”

Thankfully, the drought was broken.

WINNER: Sam Kavanagh pictured on Thursday.

And it would make for a memorable victory for the Upper Hunter community after Singleton jockey Aaron Bullock brought the eight-year-old galloper over the line.

“Simon (Price) moved up here and was offered the ride but he was sort of 50-50 with the travel and the weight issues that he’s had,” Kavanagh added.

“Aaron also rides the higher weighted horses and he rode him terrific.

“I still do not know him that well to be honest but hopefully there will be more wins to come.”

Post-race Kavanagh admits everyone thought he was crazy to purchase a seven-year-old online for $100,000.

But his bet paid off and now he hopes the wins will keep coming throughout the upcoming months.

He also credited his wife Kellie for her on-going support and Duane Dowell (Muswellbrook Race Club) in the lead up to the race.

“The prize money in country racing for NSW is so good, we basically got two thirds of the money back that we paid for the horse in two runs,” he concluded.

“Hopefully, he can continue that into the spring.”

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Perry surprised with Bengalla Cup victory

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BY ALEX TIGANI

Another chapter was added to the history of the Bengalla Cup on Sunday when the Paul Perry trained ‘Nothing Too Hard’ claimed an upset victory.

ALL SMILES: Nathan Perry celebrates his Bengalla Cup victory for 2020.

It made for a stable double for the Perry family following an early victory to the Grant Buckley ridden ‘Chasing Comets’ in the Gj’s By The Lake Maiden Handicap.

“It was a bit of a surprise but a happy one,” Perry’s son Nathan told The Hunter River Times after the main race.

“We just thought this horse was a good country’s cup horse and he was first up today.

“We probably thought he needed the run really because he was still a bit fat but in his last preparation, he won the Quirindi Cup.”

Pre-race patrons had anticipated a victory for Andrew Robinson’s ‘Trophies Galore’, hoping to end the locals’ Bengalla Cup drought.

However, it would be Perry’s six-year-old veteran gelding who would live up to its name when claiming the victory at $51 odds.

Richard Litt’s ‘Sedition’ finished runner up ahead of David Atkins’ ‘All From Scrap’.

THE WINNER: Chris O’Brien takes ‘Nothing Too Hard’ over the line.

“He’s always been a nice handy horse and just had a nice run up along the fence there and saved a lot of ground,” he explained.

“Chris (O’Brien) the jockey said he really didn’t even handle the track as well, but he did a good job.”

Perry couldn’t stop smiling on his return to Newcastle on Sunday night, a successful result to capture his first day back in three months.

“I thought this thing (coronavirus) isn’t getting any better so I better get used to the new normal and get back to the races myself,” he concluded.

“To return with a double made for an enjoyable day.”

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Gates open for Bengalla Cup

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BY ALEX TIGANI
| SPORTS EDITOR

A limited crowd of 500 will be permitted through the gates of the Muswellbrook Race Club from noon this Sunday for the annual Bengalla Cup Day.

General Manager Duane Dowell has revealed that strict controls will be in place to ensure the safety of patrons as soon as gates open at noon.

However, he also stressed that people could come to the race club with confidence in the racing industry being the benchmark for Covid-19 controls for public events.

“We have spacious grounds to ensure good social distancing and our record keeping of all people that attend will be electronic with everyone required to provide their contact details,” Dowell told The Hunter River Times.

“This is always a competitive race and often throws up a progressive horse that can train on into the spring, so I encourage all general public to purchase General Admission tickets on our website.”

The Bengalla Mining Company have been long term sponsors of the Muswellbrook Race Club for more than 25 years.

This is significant given that Bengalla only received its initial 21-year development consent in 1996.

Before it was known as the Bengalla Cup’, the feature race each year was called the Olympic Rings Handicap which started in 1994 and was raced annually until the Sydney Olympics in 2000.

The race name then changed to the Bengalla Cup and has remained a prominent race on the Muswellbrook Race Club calendar ever since.

RACE DAY READY: Fiona Hartin (Bengalla Mining Company) and Duane Dowell (Muswellbrook Race Club) prepare for this Sunday’s Bengalla Cup.

“Bengalla are amazing supporters of our club and I really value the partnership we share,” he concluded.

The feeling is mutual according to Bengalla Mining Company community relations specialist Fiona Hartin.

“Bengalla has been a partner of the Race Club for 25 years so these are relationships that we really value,” she added.

“There is a long relationship so we’re excited that the Race Club has some events that can kick off with some spectators again.”

She admits she has been a committed follower of the race day long before she joined the Bengalla team.

“I remember in my 20s I came to a lot of the Cup days and it was always lots of fun and there was lots of vibe,” she reflected.

“A lot of people would travel to come, bring a picnic and make a big day out of it.”

Last year the Richard-Litt-trained Handfast claimed a memorable victory ahead of Brett Thompson’s Sugar Dance and Sue Grills’ Under The Thumb.

This Sunday’s field also looks very impressive according to the race’s major sponsor.

“Under Duane’s leadership the Race Club is growing from strength to strength,” she continued.

“Everything is always perfect, and we have our training days here every quarter and we’re very well looked after so I think the race club is looking extremely healthy.

“We also have our Christmas parties at the end of the year and the grounds are fantastic.

“We’ll be here in another 25 years and there will be someone else standing here and having this conversation.”

For further information including the Covid-19 restrictions and ticket sales can be found at muswellbrookraceclub.com.au.

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