10 May 2023

Orange wave hits Laura as Hedley horses dominate

| Matt Nicholls
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A big crowd watches Endorse streak away to win the Laura 10,000 on Saturday.

FAVOURITE backers had a field day at Laura on Saturday as five short-priced horses saluted on the six-race card in Cape York.

The cream rises to the top and it was no surprise that Cairns pub baron Tom Hedley was rewarded for allowing his trainers to send horses up the Mulligan Highway for the non-TAB event.

Wearing the distinctive orange silks with the giant ‘H’ on the front, four of Hedley’s horses prevailed on the bush circuit.

Three were for leading Cairns trainer Stephen Massingham, which included the Pioneer Cup and Laura Cup.

Massingham’s charges were ridden by his two regular track riders in Nor Yadi and Masayuki Abe, who each had two winners on the day.

“It was great to reward them with some good rides and win a couple of cups,” the trainer said.

“We have a deal with them that when we go to the TAB races we put the southern boys on (who fly up) but when we go to the non-TABs they get first crack, which is fair.”

Battle Cry (Nor Yadi) wins the 2022 Laura Cup ahead of Forgiato (Masayuki Abe).

Yadi rode Battle Cry perfectly in the Laura Cup (1450m).

After jumping slowly in the straight for the first time, he was able to kick up and make his rivals work for an on-pace position and landed behind the leader Forgiato.

With 500m to go, Yadi made his move and came off heels to level up heading into the straight.

He found some resistance from the leader, who kicked strongly, but class prevailed as Battle Cry ($1.50) won by a half-length.

“The set weight conditions just suited that horse down to the ground,” Massingham said.

“He’s been competitive in strong open company at TAB races and this was a big drop in class. However, you’ve still got to win and he was professional.”

The Pioneer Cup Class 6 Handicap was won by Rigel ($1.50), who also took a sit but showed his class in running down the field to win by three-quarters of a length from the fast-finishing Cool Attitude for Mareeba trainer Jenny Ball.

Massingham’s other winner came in the Laura 10,000 Class 3 Plate when Endorse ($2) gave his rivals a licking to win by more than three lengths.

“They were the right sort of races for these horses,” he said.

“I’m surprised a few more trainers didn’t come to Laura because the track raced really well, which is a credit to the club who clearly put a lot of work into it.

“It’s four hours from Cairns on a bitumen road, it was a beautiful drive up.”

Masayuki Abe and Tina Wallin after Rigel’s win in the Pioneer Cup.

Hedley’s fourth winner came via Captivated ($1.80) for trainer Fred Wieland in the Class B Handicap (1200m) with Frank Edwards on board.

“A lot of people will bag Tom for winning these non-TAB races but he will go and buy another five horses this week,” Massingham said.

“He doesn’t take money from the industry and put it in his pocket; he just re-invests.

“I can say for a fact that he puts in much more than he gets back.”It was largely an uneventful day on the course, with one race delayed marginally by a couple of wandering wallabies on the track, although it did start off with a protest.

In the opening race, punters were treated to a two-horse war in the home straight as jockeys Ngarie Nelson and Edwards tried to lift their mounts across the finish line in the Maiden Plate (1000m).

Top Cedee ($2.80) for Nelson held on to win by a nose for trainer Darryl Paradise, but correct weight was delayed after Edwards lodged a protest for interference against his runner Endinaye ($2).

Stewards examined the video footage and took statements from both jockeys but could not find enough evidence to overturn the result.

The biggest smile of the day was reserved for Innisfail trainer Renee Schluenz who always seems to leave Cape York with a winner.

Renee Schluenz always seems to get a winner in Cape York.

Her pocket rocket Be Famous ($1.90) was too slick in the 0-50 Handicap (1000m) with Yadi in the saddle.

“Once she got to the lead she was going to be hard to beat,” the small-time trainer said.

“I love coming up here and my horses seem to love it, too.”

Schluenz was just as rapt with her result in the Laura Cup as Forgiato boxed on to be second.

“What a great run that was,” she exclaimed after the race.

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