Horses put through paces at Tatura trials

May 25, 2018

What do you reckon?: Jockey Lachlan King reports back to Team McEvoy after piloting Scrap Dragon.

Winner winner: Left Jaybee Out holds off Curragh King for Tatura glory.

Time to shine: Apprentice jockey Mikaela Claridge takes Left Jaybee Out for Monday's sixth trial at Tatura.

There were no frocks, no hats, no fascinators and no flowers.

No champagne was popped, no bets were put on and no thirsty teens stumbled around trackside.

There was no gourmet food on offer either — unless you count the sausages being dutifully turned outside the jockeys’ room.

On a glorious morning at Tatura, this was a billion-dollar industry at its most basic.

At a busy morning of trials, horses ran not for money, but to prove to connections they were ready to race.

Adding an element of prestige to a standard set of trials was the presence of racing royalty — or at least a descendant of it.

Divanation — daughter of three-time Melbourne-Cup-winning legend Makybe Diva — channelled her magnificent mother, saluting with ease in her trial.

Trained by Tony McEvoy, Melbourne stable foreman Michael Shepherdson said the filly had done everything asked of her.

‘‘She’s been a bit immature, but we’ve been real patient with her and (Monday) was her second trial,’’ Shepherdson said.

‘‘She pulled up like she was ready to race and she’ll make her debut in a couple of weeks, hopefully.

‘‘She has a really good pedigree and is a sweet little filly, so it will be nice for her to get the races.’’

It was a busy morning for Shepherdson, who in his role fronting the Victorian arm of the South Australian-based stable checks on the progress of his horses.

‘‘Basically it’s about getting them away from home, getting them some experience,’’ he said.

‘‘It’s really good for the young horses, good for their heads, to take them away and give them a day out.

‘‘We like to do it with a lot of the young horses and they seem to enjoy it and it brings on their fitness and gets them ready to race.

‘‘They don’t have to win the trial, we just want to use it as a trial purely for education. This is what they do on raceday, so we try and mock a race, without pushing them too hard.’’

The lawn was as calm as a sleeping baby, but the stables were a hive of activity, with trainers, stable reps, jockeys and stewards all there for their own reasons.

Much like the horses, apprentice jockey Mikaela Claridge was on trial, aiming to prove she was ready to gain her licence and start racing.

In attendance was four-time Melbourne jockey premiership winner Darren Gauci, who in his role as Racing Victoria’s apprentice jockey coach assessed the youngster’s progress.

‘‘She’s ready to go for her licence, so one of the processes we go through, either (fellow coach) Matt Pumpa or I have to come out and watch her trials with the stewards and see if she’s ready to go,’’ Gauci said.

‘‘We’re just looking for control, technique and most importantly safety; those are the three things we look for, basically.’’

Claridge shone, winning trials on Left Jaybee Out and Wide Open Road, showing she is able to make the grade.

‘‘She’s been at apprentice school a little bit now, it’s her third year, so I think she’s ready to go,’’ Gauci said.

‘‘These trials go to a skills panel and they’ll make the final decision. Once she’s given the thumbs up, she’s ready to ride.’’

The region’s biggest racing powerhouse — Team Hayes — flexed its muscle with seven entrants, winning two trials.

Tatura and Shepparton Racing Club president Michael Toll was thrilled with the morning.

‘‘After a fairly cold start, the day’s turned out beautifully,’’ he said.

‘‘Through the winter months a lot of these trainers need these runs to bring their horses to their peak before a Saturday race meeting.

‘‘It’s a bit quieter this time of year coming into winter, a bit more official.’’

The club will host three race meetings this year, starting with the September 22 Tatura Cup.

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