Soft track gives our jockeys a smooth journey
RAIN had some of the nation's biggest race meets cancelled, but Lee Park had just the right amount of moisture on the track.
Nanango jockey Hannah Phillips said it was a joy to ride on the soft track, rated by stewards as a good four.
"It's actually a bit unusual for it to be a good four," she said.
"Usually it's a firm track or it's cancelled.
"You don't get to race on it when it's got a nice bit of give in it."
The conditions worked in Phillips' favour and she placed first and third in two of her four rides.
But she and Mystery Angel, trained by Oakey's Pat Richardson, got unlucky in the fourth, drawing barrier nine and coming home in 10th place.
"The 1200m start from barrier nine can be difficult," she said.
"They have to work pretty hard because you've got to go around everyone and she (Mystery Angel) likes to lead, so it didn't really suit her racing style."
In the Benchmark 60 Handicap 1600m, she came across the line in third on Count Romano, trained by Wondai's Peter Blackwell.
"He went pretty well," she said.
"In the last race he just got a bit unlucky there, we got boxed in.
"He had an enormous run, put in a really big effort.
"We nearly got them."
It was not Phillips' first ride on Count Romano, taking out a win on him earlier in the year at Nanango.
But the big one for her day was brining Captain Clayton over the line two-and-half lengths ahead of the rest of the field in the Benchmark 65 Handicap 1000m.
The eight-year-old gelding trained by Phillips' father, Nanango trainer Barry Phillips, has had a good trot since Mr Phillips took him on earlier this year.
And horse and rider made a strong team.
With two wins and a second at Nanango together, Captain Clayton is the leading horse in Nanango Race Club's annual competition.
Mr Phillips said Captain Clayton's success came down to fresh air and wide open spaces.
"He's just a very good horse," he said.
"He sort of retired to the country and enjoys the country life.
"It's suiting him well, he's a lot better horse within himself now.
"He's never really put in a bad run, but he got unlucky at Kumbia.
"He looked like winning there as well, but he got into trouble and the horses behind him nearly galloped over him."
As for his rider, since her debut at Lee Park last Easter, Phillips has had a strong year, putting her top of the ladder in the club's Jockey's Premiership.
She said racing on her home track gave her an advantage over out-of-towners.
"You get to know all the little quirks of the track," she said.
"Every track's got its little quirks.
"The home corner at Nanango is pretty sharp so once you've gone around it a few times you sort of learn how to get around it.
"Some horses get around it the first time and they hit the corner really fast and their legs keep going."
Phillips said despite an injury that put her out of action for three months, it has been a good year of racing.
But now she has her sights set on Burrandowan Picnic Races in May.
"That was so much fun last year," she said.
"They all cheer you on out in the field.
"It's really awesome."
Nanango Race Club president John Lee said strong fields turned out for each of the five races and the finishers were very good.
But the washouts, particularly at Randwick hit the TAB takings hard.
"That put a reduction on our betting hold, the TAB turnover was a disappointment," he said.
"The whole of the racing industry suffered though that."