THE Wangaratta races might have been moved to Echuca because of bushfires but the locals had no answer to the Egan bandwagon, which saw trainer Gerald and his jockey nephew Billy end up with winning doubles.
Including one in partnership when Billy booted home Valoyd in the $23,000 Reflex Glass and J&T Joinery maiden over 1100m.
The in-form four-year-old mare had to work overtime in the dash to the line but managed to tip out Gwenda Johnstone’s debut runner Bon Shadow, which showed enough to suggest its first win is not far away.
But that was really the last hurrah for the locals, the next best result was John Pearson’s Hello There finishing third behind Mr Brown Fox in the $22,000 Wangaratta Bearings Handicap over 1000m.
In a day where rain plagued the early races and the track was rated a true soft six, the Egan and Egan double act saw Valoyd backed into outright favouritism at $2.15.
As soon as the field settled into the running Egan parked himself behind Bon Shadow, both horses with cover as the rain continued to fall.
As they turned for home Daniel Stackhouse squeezed through a gap on Bon Shadow and hit the front full of running while Valoyd was forced to go wider to get around pacesetter Money and Mud, which wasn’t up to either despite the conditions.
Once in the open both Johnstone and Stackhouse must have been kicking themselves the three-year-old gelding wasn’t wearing blinkers because all he wanted to do was look around and wander across the track.
Hot Night appeared out of the mist within reach of the post and very nearly stole the show but Egan pushed Valoyd to victory (after six previous placings) and Bon Shadow hung on by a nose hair to keep second.
After the race Egan senior said his horse had run well on the day.
“She has been a bit unlucky but always a very honest horse,” Egan said.
“It was good to see Billy win on her, he broke in her mother (Estagal) and rode her to her first win as well,” he said, consolidating the family connections.
Commenting on the track’s condition Egan said he had been praying for rain for a month and was pleased to see it.
The horse’s name is a mix of her breeder and owner Lloyd Parks and his wife Val and Parks was trackside to see the maiden victory.
Egan the Nephew said the horse jumped well, “sort of bounced and put herself” into a good spot for the early running.
He said the leaders “upped the ante” pretty strongly around the turn and left his ride a little flat footed.
“But then she knuckled down and made that last bit pretty strong,” he said.
He said the track would probably see riders looking for the best spots as the day went on but was still a good surface.
Egan wasted no time getting back into the winner’s stall, taking Paddy Payne’s Chatelaine out in the very next race – the $23,000 Winsec Savings & Loans Maiden Plate over 1600m.
The four-year-old mare was heavily supported early but by the time they jumped had drifted to $5.10 with Monteferrante the punter’s pick at $2.30 but it would finish a dismal third, more than five lengths adrift, after lurching out of the gate and leaving itself ahead of just one horse – Chatelaine.
Several horses lined up across the track to fight it out when Chatelaine came tearing down the middle and moving towards the outside of the track, blew right by everyone and with little urging from Egan bolted it in.
“I think I could have stayed in the middle as runs were appearing after I cut the corner,” Egan added.
“This horse has more distance in her, out to 2000m and maybe beyond and that will open a few more doors for her,” he said.
In the $22,000 Happy 18th Dylan West Handicap over 1600m Egan saddled the well-supported Richwaite Lady for apprentice jockey Lachie King, who had just won the previous race.
It must have been the Egan omen because he handed King a horse in peak condition and the win gave trainer and jockey winning doubles for the day.
No sooner had the field jumped than the $2.35 favourite Malevolent found itself all alone at the front, leaving rider Brad Rawiller no choice but to go for it.
At the same time King had Richwaite Lady midfield on the fence and as they turned for home he stayed glued to the running rail and rocketed past everyone except Malevolent, which was gamely hanging onto the lead it had held for the previous 1450m.
At the 200m it looked as though Rawiller had it all under control but with less then 100m to go Richwaite Lady took, and then stretched the lead, with Malevolent making one last dive at the post but it was all too late.
Egan senior said they had been tossing up most of the morning whether to scratch the horse as it doesn’t like running in the wet.
But said by the time they had arrived in Echuca they thought they might as well give her the run for experience and exercise.
“If we didn’t give her the run we would have had to give her a gallop in the morning so the race saved me a bit of bother,” Egan said.
“Her soft track form has been terrible but she’s fit and well and has had three weeks between runs and was jumping out of her skin.
“First Wangaratta was called off, and then Albury was too so we just had to run her because she needs to gallop.
“We almost gave her the winter off but I guess we’ll have to keep her going now.”