Locals show their presence at Manawatu

By Joshua Smith

The locals were to the fore at the Wanganui Trotting Club’s annual meeting at Manawatu Raceway on Tuesday, with Central Districts trainers securing five wins on the eight race card.

Leading the local charge was Palmerston North trainer Stephen Doody who recorded an early double courtesy of Leesa Castleton and Jetson Hunter. 

“It was great, it has taken a while to get another one of those,” he said.

Leesa Castleton kicked off proceedings when winning the Terry Brother Handicap Trot (2500m) in dominant fashion.

The five-year-old daughter of Majestic Son began well from her 40m handicap to grab an early lead for driver Scott Phelan. The pair dictated terms throughout, securing an easy 5-1/2 length victory.

While Leesa Castleton took a healthy form line into the race, with three placings from a handful of starts this year, Doody said some TLC may have helped overcome a few niggles.

“It was a dominant win today,” he said. “She hadn’t been trotting that well, but we have done a bit of massaging with her and she has started to trot a bit better now.

“Scott said she trotted really smoothly today, so that was good.”

Leesa Castleton will back-up at Manawatu Raceway on Thursday and Doody is expecting a similar performance.

“Scott said she was full of running at the finish, so if she does the same thing on Thursday she will go close again I reckon.”

Doody was back in the winner’s circle just half an hour later when Jetson Hunter was victorious in the Wanganui Jockey Club Mobile Pace (2000m).

The four-year-old gelding secured an early lead for driver Jim Curtin before they handed up to the Benjamin Butcher driven Quarterback.

They bided their time in the trail and were able to take advantage of the passing lane, with Jetson Hunter showing a blistering turn of foot to run away to a three-length victory over Quarterback, with Betancourt 2-1/2 lengths away in third. 

Doody was pleased with his runner heading into Tuesday and said he was glad to see his charge deliver for his connections.

“Last start he was a wee bit unlucky, when he came around the bend he looked like he was going to win and then he hit a flat spot and then kicked again,” Doody said.

“I thought he would go pretty good today and he did win quite easily. Jim didn’t even pull the hood off him, so that was good.

“The way he won today, I think he will go pretty good again on Thursday.”

Doody’s team continued to fire later on the card with Emmi Rose and Milner recording runner-up results in their respective contests.

“I thought Emmi Rose was quite good,” Doody said. “Jim said they were only walking down the back, so that is why he took off.

“She was out quite wide, but she stuck to her guns.”

Doody was pleased with Milner’s second-placing in the Wanganui Cup (2000m) and he is looking forward to watching him step up in distance when he contests the Manawatu Cup (2500m) on Thursday. 

“He is probably out of his class, but he went good today,” Doody said. “I think the further the distance, the better for him.

“He has always worked well, he just hasn’t produced it on raceday. But now he is starting to put it all together and is going really well.”

Helga’s Monarch was the only runner to disappoint Doody on Tuesday, having to be pulled up in the opening race on the card and Doody is hoping for a quick turnaround.

“We are going to put her back in the cart again tomorrow (Wednesday) and put a nose flap on her because she was chucking her head at stones,” he said.

“We will see how we get on tomorrow and then we will work it out from there.”

Doody’s five Tuesday starters are set to back up at Manawatu Raceway on Thursday where they will be joined by Greatest Showman.

“He arrived back in the stable today,” Doody said. “He had a heart fibrillation at Auckland.

 “The vets have checked him out and have given him the all clear and said he would be good to go on Thursday.

“I hope he goes well because he is a lovely horse. Brent (Mangos, driver) couldn’t believe it when it happened to him the other night. He has got good speed, so he should go close.” 

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