Barramundi Tom gives photographer Crystal Spencer a winning smile with trainer Wendy Roche.
Barramundi Tom gives photographer Crystal Spencer a winning smile with trainer Wendy Roche. Crystal Spencer

Trainer hopes luck is on her side

FRESH from her gelding Askew’s fighting third place in Saturday’s $45,000 T.H. Cock Handicap at Doomben, newly licensed local trainer Wendy Roche is looking to today’s Melbourne Cup Day meeting at Murwillumbah to extend her success.

Roche, who is based at father Pat’s Tumbulgum spelling facility, says Murwillumbah’s yearly Melbourne Cup Day meeting is one of the best anywhere in Australia.

“It’s simply special,” she said.

“And I’d always thought it would be nice to be part of it as a trainer with my own horses.”

Today she gets her wish, with two runners vying for prizemoney.

In the first race of the day, the Radio 97 Maiden Plate for colts and geldings over 900 metres, she has topweight Barramundi Tom backing-up after a disappointing run in a maiden event at last week’s local Spring Cup meeting.

While Barramundi Tom ran a shocking 12.5 lengths from the winner, he was trapped three and four wide all the way to the turn, and was carted the widest of all runners on straightening, at which point his rider lost the whip.

At his previous run, in a maiden at Ipswich, the five-year-old was able to make a race of it. Leading most of the way, he only succumbed close to home, finishing sixth of eleven runners, about three lengths from the winner.

On returning from a spell in mid-September Barramundi Tom put in another decent run at Beaudesert over a similar distance to today’s assignment.

If home-ground advantage can combine with a slight improvement on the two Queensland runs, he has every chance of making Roche proud.  Likely favourite Gold Bullion won't be making it easy for anyone though.

Returning after a let-up, the four-year-old has been placed at his last three runs.

Jockey Lorna Cook is a master of judging the pace of a race, and in a four-horse contest that gives whatever she’s riding a big advantage.

In race four, the Jason Birney Memorial Plate over 1510 metres, Roche has topweight Ima Redneck.

The five-year-old gelding has failed to impress at his five runs to date.

However, he has been doing well at the barrier trials, including a win at Doomben in March and a second here on Anzac Day.

In a relatively weak field, Ima Redneck might prove a more enlightened proposition than his name suggests. Beaudesert-trained mare Paris Label looks ready to make her presence felt in the event.

She comes out of the all important number one gate this time in, after trailing the field from the widest barrier here last week at the same distance.

She still managed to charge home for third, and looks well suited. She has been handy more than once during her current campaign, and today should be the day she breaks through.

Of the others, Paris Label’s stablemate Ruth The Boss will be thereabouts, as will Miss Mallee.

The other arena where a keen contest is sure to ensue is the Fashions on the Field.

Judges will be making their decisions from 2pm with categories for best dressed lady, best dressed man, best spring carnival hat, best dressed couple and best dressed child under 13 years.

Buses to and from the track will be available from the Gold Coast, the Tweed Coast, and Murwillumbah town clock. Bookings are essential for the Gold Coast and Tweed Coast runs which cost $10 return.

Gates open at 10am, with the first of the day due to get under way at 12.50pm.

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