by Brad Best
After a well-earned break over winter, picnic racing returned to the high country on Saturday with racegoers treated to brilliant sunshine for the first Cox Plate Day meeting held at Alexandra. With a solid crowd in attendance – looked after superbly by the Alexandra Picnic Race Club – the meeting is sure to become a much-anticipated annual event on the picnic racing calendar.
It was a great day for jockeys Grant Seccombe and Christopher Brown who both rode doubles. In the second, Grant Seccombe picked up the first of his two winners on board favourite Peace Of Heaven, taking the six-year-old mare to the lead at the top of the straight before holding on for a gutsy win against the fast-finishing Medal Day. He brought up his double in the fifth with an equally gutsy ride on board Avon Country, prevailing in a photo finish against the tenacious Derby Way and bringing up a double for prolific trainer John Kilgower.
Christopher Brown made it back-to-back wins in races three and four, teaming up with trainer Gordon Strang for another jockey/trainer double. In the third, Brown took control of the race at the final turn, guiding five-year-old gelding Dane’s Edge to the front before pulling away for a one-and-a-half-length win. His early attack on the jockey’s premiership was complete in the fourth with a hard-fought win on $1.50 favourite Minou.
The meeting was bookended by two strong performances in middle-distance events. In the first, Ashlee Beer guided Rocky’n’bullwinkle to a one-and-a-half-length win, pulling away in the straight to give the seven-year-old gelding its first ever victory at its 32nd start. While in the last, Craig Kirkpatrick was again back in familiar territory, saluting in the winner’s stall after an emphatic victory aboard six-year-old gelding Despict, clearing away at the top of the straight to record a two-and-three-quarter-length win.
As the spring racing carnival reaches its showpiece event – the Melbourne Cup – there is no better time to soak up the atmosphere of a day at the races. Next week, picnic racing returns to Healesville on Saturday for the Derby Day meeting, Mansfield on Tuesday for the Cup Day meeting and Balnarring on Saturday week for the Stakes Day meeting. Surely, when it comes to big races in November, there is no better place to be than at the picnics! We can’t wait to see you there.
Results for Alexandra. Visit the picture gallery for the days action at Alexandra.