A sticky Situation but he's twice a winner
Le Grange's US-bred scores narrowly, then survives an objection by the rider of second horse past the post
Falcon Racing Stable's SITUATION came off the narrow winner from a slogging battle in the $60,000 Goodman 2014 Stakes, a Class 4 Division 1 race over 1,600m on Sunday, but another battle had to be fought in the Stewards' room before the "All Clear" could be flashed.
Shortly after jockey Nooresh Juglall returned to scales beaming and thinking he deserved every cent of his riding fee in driving the $32 chance past a tenacious Oliver (Matthew Kellady) to score by a short head, smiles quickly turned into frowns when Kellady fired in an objection.
The Mauritian hoop would now have to sweat on whether the hearing panel would be convinced by his arguments to keep the race, but he needed not have worried too much. After a short deliberation, the result stood.
The stewards adjudged that the slight bumping duel between the two horses as they locked horns in the home straight did not materially affect the result of the race.
Oliver's trainer, Daniel Meagher, made a strong plea about young horses losing at least half-a-length when they are interfered with while the Thai-owned Situation's trainer, Ricardo Le Grange, agreed to disagree, saying it was just competitive riding.
The first-season South African handler was glad the verdict went his way.
"It was good competitive riding and all the credit should go to Nooresh for getting this horse home," said Le Grange.
"It's lovely to train another winner for the Thai owners as they have gone through a bit of a dry spell.
"The horse had a long layoff after coming from Ireland. We stepped him up to 1,600m on Sunday and he put in a decent effort to score."
Le Grange was at a race-to-race double as $12 favourite SAFEER (Oscar Chavez) scored an easy maiden win one event earlier in the $75,000 Stepitup 2015 Stakes, a Restricted Maiden race over 1,100m on the Polytrack.
The Savabeel three-year-old was always in a handy spot, albeit three wide, before kicking clear inside the last 300m to defeat Conatus G (Michael Rodd) by two lengths with Le Grange's second runner Super Denman (Nooresh Juglall) third, another half-a-length away.
"I've always thought very highly of Safeer. Unfortunately, he was drawn wide (16) at his first start (Aushorse Golden Horseshoe)," said Le Grange.
"He is not the finished product yet, but it was good to see him win second-up. There is more improvement to come from him."
Sunday's outing was only his second.
The Al-Arabiya-owned bay New Zealand-bed made his debut in the $325,000 Group 2 Aushorse Golden Horseshoe over 1,200m on July 7.
He was well up until the straight and then faded to finish 13th of 16 runners.