RAMORNIE HCP: Shiekh doubles up as Jerezana wins 2011 sprint
STRAIGHT after Jerezana gave Sheikh Mohammed's Darley back to back wins in yesterday's $130,000 WHK Ramornie (1200m), head trainer Peter Snowden made a promise to Grafton.
"I promise I'll be there myself next year, trying to make it three in a row," Snowden said by phone from Sydney.
Snowden, 54, raised in Scone, missed Pinwheel's win in 2010 due to family commitments and this year only returned from a 10-day business trip to England on Tuesday.
Jerezana, the bonny four-year-old mare by former Australian Horse of the Year Lonhro, produced a jet propelled finish from last to win the time honoured sprint before an appreciative crowd.
Starting $8.50, and ridden by little known Newcastle jockey, 33-year-old Andrew Gibbons, Jerezana scored by a length from Falco Star ($41) with heavily backed Motspur ($4.60 favourite) a short head away third.
Topweight Black Piranha ($4.80) had little luck finishing fifth.
Snowden's last visit to Grafton was 36 years back when he nearly died following a race fall in the 1975 Ramornie aboard One Eyed Queen.
"I haven't been back since that fall, not by choice, but circumstance," Snowden said. "I vividly remember the fall. One Eyed Queen clipped heels near the 800 metres and came down. Just about the whole field went over me.
"I remember coming to, still groggy and thinking, 'I'm dead for sure."
Jerezana's win enthused the quietly spoken Snowden.
"It's a big thrill, I'm touched, really happy," he said. "It was a great effort by the mare, a great ride by Andrew (Gibbons) and for Darley to win the prestigious race back to back, an honour.
"It's good for the kid, he would have got a real buzz out of the win.
"Everything went perfectly. Andrew got her out at precisely the right time.
"She's a mare that has an amazing, short sharp finishing sprint, a mare capable of winning a decent race if the race is run to suit.
"She'll come home now. There are a couple of Listed races for her in Sydney. We'll see how she pulls up and take it from there.
"To win a second Ramornie, fabulous."
Gibbons ride was a Bo Derek effort showing the patience of Job.
"I've got to thank my manager Wayne Harris for getting me the ride and Peter Snowden for showing faith in me," Gibbons said. "They told me she's got an amazing turn of foot but not to get itchy, pull the trigger too early.
"When she got out, she went whoosh."
Jockey Robert Thompson, who rode runner-up Falco Star agreed.
"I hit the front momentarily but that mare (Jerezana) flew past me," he said. "Gee she can quicken."
Michael Rodd, rider of Black Piranha, said the dual group one winner "had no luck.
"I was up backsides all the way, no room. He's still trying to get out."
Rodd was later suspended for five meetings for causing interference in a minor race.