THE Mid North Coast's first million dollar prizemoney galloper, Taree's eight-year-old gelding Youthful Jack, returned this week from an unsuccessful campaign in Tasmania after being dogged with plenty of excuses.
But its trainer Ross Stitt hasn't given up on further racing which could see Youthful Jack's earnings soar past $1.2 million, even contemplating as a target back-to-back wins in the Ramornie Handicap over 1200m at Grafton in July.
"The horse pulled up sound after its last run in Launceston and I will give him a freshen up," Stitt said.
If the gelding showed it still was sound and wanted to race, then another campaign beckons.
The 1600m of the $100,000 race last week may have been too tough after the gelding was scratched from another $100,000 race at Hobart due to a hoof abscess.
Youthful Jack had won all three weight-for-age races two years ago, won another of the three last year and had no luck in trying to emulate one or all feats of its initial sojurn south.
Cessnock jockey Robert Thompson said travelling wide early took its toll on Youthful Jack even though the galloper was in striking distance on the bend.
Missing a vital run didn't help for his last race and in two of the other races (ran fourth on both occasions) he had no luck in running or the track conditions didn't help.
Meanwhile, Stitt has nominated four-year-old mare Shazza's Bubbles for a $40,000 race over 1550m in Sydney this Wednesday.
Even though she has placed over 1600m, he would have preferred the Sydney race to be a little shorter for her second run from a short let-up.
After scoring two wins on her local track, the mare was most unlucky in a race in Brisbane last start when second.
She and Single Spirit, both ridden by Thompson, had trialled well before heading north for races and both met plenty of traffic at vital stages.
Single Spirit, again with Thompson on board, scored by just under a length in the $25,000 Guyra Cup over 1400m at Armidale on Sunday.
The winner is exempt from ballot for the $35,000 Armidale Cup over 1900m on March 17.
The winner's cheque of $14,410 for winning the Guyra Cup would have helped defray a few expenses with travel of late.
The cup was an all Mid North Coast affair with Al Nova, trained by Neil Godbolt at Port and Clunes Rocket, from the stable of Grant Prosser, of Wauchope, filling the minor placings.
What a big effort in the win of six-year-old Taree gelding Floral Insight, trained by Jim Delaney and ridden by Taree apprentice jockey Daniel Holten, in scoring by a length in lumping 63.5kgs over 1106m at Grafton on Friday.
The galloper is one of the most honest sprinters going around in having 58 starts for 17 wins and 26 placings for prizemoney around $245,000.
Two of the wins were at Warwick Farm in December 2011 and in April last year.
That's just over $4240 on average per start-a welcome result to defray the feed and other costs.
Its sire, Floral Dynamite, stands at Taree on Ian McRobert's farm and it has been the father of a number of local horses with wins.
McRobert trained one, five-year-old mare Champagne Flyer, owned by a syndicate headed by Allan Chiswick, of Sydney, which scored at Krambach Race Club's meeting at Taree in the middle of last month.
It was only having start 13 and has had three wins and four placings for prizemoney of over $30,000.
Its previous wins were at Bowraville and Cessnock.
McRobert said not many people bred from local sires and it was tough going being in the racehorse breeding business.
At least Floral Dynamite, with a cheap service fee, is showing his worth despite not having very fashionable mares to breed from.
What an old marvel is nine-year-old Port Macquarie gelding Long Journey Home, trained by Neil Godbolt, which has won a race nearly every campaign, his latest being at Grafton when ridden by Port apprentice Priscilla Schmidt.
In 76 starts the gelding has had nine wins and 21 placings and these days is showing he is a sprinter and not a miler-2000m horse.
Godbolt's daughter, Alison Thompson, just loves Long Journey Home and is probably its most ardent fan.
"He is such a gentleman around the stables, a beautiful nature."
Her father said about three months ago that Long Journey Home was more a sprinter these days and he has been proven right.
The syndicate of Kempsey owners have had a lot of fun with the galloper and according to Godbolt the gelding will keep "ticking along".
Racing returns to Bushland Drive Racecourse, Taree, this Friday for an eight-race TAB meeting for Taree Wingham Race Club.
I will preview the meeting in Friday's edition.