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Lester's Cup joy

Monday, 24th October, 2011

PHOTO FINISH: Number 6 ‘Let Him Loose’ won the Silver City Cup by the barest of margins on Saturday. PHOTO FINISH: Number 6 ‘Let Him Loose’ won the Silver City Cup by the barest of margins on Saturday.

By John Casey

A teenage jockey just two months into his racing career will never forget his first ever winner after producing a stunning ride aboard Let Him Loose in Saturday’s Silver City Cup.

In one of the most spine-tingling finishes in the Cup’s history, 16-year-old Lester Grace lifted the Swan Hill-trained six-year-old over the line, edging out local trainers Mick Wayman and Barry Murray in a blanket finish.

Half the Cup field crossed the line together, with anxious racegoers kept on their toes until the judge delivered his verdict - the photo finish revealing just one-tenth of a second separating the first four.

It was a cruel result for veteran Mick Wayman and his wife Pam, who many at the track had thought may have won their first BH feature event with Dealers, while Silverton trainer Barry Murray also had plenty to cheer for over the concluding stages with Casino Bob snatching third.

While Victorian trainer Con Kelly may have spoiled the BH party, he could at least claim a local connection as his daughter Erin has spent this year working here with the Royal Flying Doctor Service.

And those who witnessed the family emotion between teenage jockey Lester Grace and his mother Julie as they shared the thrill of his first success felt like winners themselves.

“I can’t believe this, it is an amazing feeling,” Lester said after dismounting.

“I had never even heard of Broken Hill before and my Mum had to use Google maps for the nine-and-a-half hour drive to get us here.”

Lester is apprenticed to leading Australian trainer David Hayes at Euroa in Victoria and rides trackwork regularly with big names like Damien Oliver, Michael Rodd and Brad Rawiller.

He seems destined for a fine career and has the family racing pedigree to draw from.

Mum Julie is a former rider and older brother Kodie is also an apprentice jockey. Dad Tim rode as well and is now training his own team at Benalla in Victoria.

Mrs Grace was initially lost for words as her son returned to the winner’s stall but later spoke of her son’s dedication to his craft and how it almost came crashing down just over 12 months ago.

“Lester was kicked in the face by a horse in Albury which smashed his jaw,” Mrs Grace said.

“He was knocked out and lost a lot of blood and at one stage there was a lot of concern about his future.

“It something no mother would want to go through with their son, so to be able to share with triumph with him is really special,” Mrs Grace continued.

Lester was named after English racing legend Lester Piggott, who at the peak of his career was considered the best jockey in the world.

The Lester Grace-Con Kelly tandem combined later to win the final event with Master Houdini - a horse that Kelly purchased after watching him win three weeks ago at Pooncarie.

Kelly wouldn’t reveal how much he had paid for the seven-year-old, but confirmed Saturday’s $3500 first prizemoney had covered his costs.

“I’ve been training for 25 years, but only went full-time 12 months ago and this is magnificent,” Kelly said after winning the Silver City Cup.

“I love coming to these bush meetings and in 10 years of racing in Broken Hill I think I’ve only ever had one winner.

“There’s no doubt I’ll be back next March for St Pat’s to try and win another,” Kelly smiled.


Race 5: Broken Hill Clubs Silver City Cup (1600m):

1st: $4.20 TURN HIM LOOSE (Lester Grace) Trainer Con Kelly, Swan Hill.

2nd: $4.60 DEALERS (David Tootell).

3rd: $10 CASINO BOB (Grant Challinger).

Then followed: Young Tearaway, Double Hopped, Da Thong, Golden Schnaps, Musee D’Goss. Margins: nose, neck. Time: 1:38.01.

Local trainers started the day on a positive note, picking up second and third placings in the opening race, which was won by the Mildura-trained Keewong.

Menindee’s Wayne Marsden grabbed second prizemoney with Are Pee Gee, with Heidi Smith’s Coota Queen running third.  


Race 1: Streets-Standley Distributors Maiden (1100m):

1st: $4.80 KEEWONG (Wayne Kerford) Trainer K Adcock, Mildura.

2nd: $7 ARE PEE GEE (Eleanor Webster-Hawes).

3rd: $4.40 COOTA QUEEN (David Tootell).

Then followed: Doodles, Starched, Trejuls, Followthefootsteps, Pallaxy. Margins: 1len, 3.75len. Time: 1:06.62.   


Race two on the program provided local success of sorts, with apprentice jockey Eleanor Webster-Hawes winning for the first time in front of a cast of family members who either live, or have lived in BH.

 Eleanor’s 89-year-old grandmother, Grace Hawes, was “over the moon” with the result, as was the jockey’s proud father Donald Hawes.

“I did have my reservations about Eleanor wanting to be a jockey, but she has a love of horses,” Donald explained.

Winning trainer Allan Prisk said he and Eleanor had hatched the plan for Ziazan to be at his best for the BH meeting to ensure her first ride in front of many family members would be one to remember.

“It’s just unbelievable when a plan like this comes off,” the likeable Prisk smiled.


Race 2: Woodys Tyres Hcp (2200m):

1st: $2.20 fav ZIAZAN (Eleanor Webster-Hawes) Trainer Allan Prisk, Cobar.

2nd: $3.10 BRING THEM ON (Jake Toeroek).

3rd: $3 BUST THE BANK (Wayne Kerford).

Then followed: New Song, Lime Light Girl, Star Moon. Margins: 7len, 6.75 len. Time: 2:18.32.


The only local training success on Saturday was provided by Silverton’s Barry Murray who had Fatlamp in peak order to win the Atlas Copco Hcp, edging out fellow local trainer Frank Stacey.

Stacey’s Frankie Sea has now run consecutive placings at BH, Pooncarie, Hawker and Port Augusta to maintain his ultra consistent record which comprises four wins and 11 placings from 34 starts.


Race 3: Atlas Copco Hcp (1200m):

1st: $5 FATLAMP (Grant Challinger) Trainer Barry Murray, Silverton.

2nd: $2.30 fav FRANKIE SEA (Murray Henderson).

3rd: $3.50 PERFECT BEAU (Wayne Kerford).

Then followed: Raja Belle, Dashing Impulse, Bluey’s Spin, Miss Bistro. Margins: 1len, 5.75 len. Time: 1:12.77.


BH veteran Norm’s Boy produced his usual brave and tough effort when third in the Coughlan Drilling Hcp, which is likely to be the 10-year-olds final run at his home track.

Trainer Mick Wayman has nominated the 17-race winner for the Wentworth meeting on Melbourne Cup day, which is likely to be his 83rd and final start.

“It’s a sad day for us,” Wayman’s wife Pam said.

“The bond that Mick shares with this horse is very special and we have become very attached to him.”

Race winner Stratocruiser made the one-horse trip from Gawler worthwhile for veteran trainer Brian Searle, who put the six-year-old on the market following the win.

“The owners are into jumping horses and Stratocruiser doesn’t look like he will stay, so for $2500 he’s yours,” Searle said.


Race 4: Coughlan Drilling Hcp (1400m):

1st: $4.80 STRATOCRUISER (Jake Toeroek) Trainer Brian Searle, Gawler.

2nd: $3.40 fav GALADAN (Wayne Kerford).

3rd: $4 NORM’S BOY (David Tootell).

Then followed: Pacific Diva, Turf Cutter, Danhaka Dancer, Marcia Proba, Words Of Wisdom. Margins: 0.75len, 6.25len. Time: 1:25.19.


The final event on Saturday almost re-wrote the record books with Con Kelly’s Master Houdini romping to a 4.75-length victory and finishing less than half a second outside the 1100-metre track record which was set almost 25 years ago.

Master Houdini stopped the clock at 1:04.66, just outside Never Late’s 1987 record of 1:04.2 and provided apprentice jockey Lester Grace with a race-to-race double. 

It has been five years since any of the 12 track records have been broken and Master Houdini’s effort in the last race of the day speaks volumes for the hard working groundstaff who had the entire racecourse in first class condition for the day.


Race 6: XXXX Gold Sprint (1100m):

1st: $3.50 eq fav MASTER HOUDINI (Lester Grace) Trainer Con Kelly, Swan Hill.

2nd: $4.80 SPECULATE (Murray Henderson).

3rd: $3.50 eq fav MOXIE MISS (Wayne Kerford).

Then followed: Run Barry Run, Sierra Skies, Six Stitcher, Bar Room Belle. Margins: 4.75len, 2len. Time: 1:04.66.


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