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Alice Springs Saturday Horse Racing Review

November 12, 2023 8:46 am.

Darwin jockey Sonja Logan, who claimed the Alice Springs and Provincial jockeys’ premiership for the first time last season, is back to her winning ways in the Red Centre. Picture: Caroline Camilleri (Darwin Photography Professionals)

She might be facing suspension in Darwin, but Top End-based jockey Sonja Logan is back dominating in Alice Springs.

For the second straight Saturday, the 31-year-old sealed a winning treble at Pioneer Park on Terry Gillett’s Great Buy ($1.95), as well as Paul Gardner’s pair Red Wraith ($2.10 fav) and Shepliments ($21).

Seven days ago, Logan saluted on Red Wraith, Leanne Gillett’s Jen’s Reward and Lisa Whittle’s Omoplata.

Subsequently, the champion jockey in the 2022/23 Alice Springs and Provincial premiership, now leads the way this season with seven wins from Darwin’s Adam Nicholls and Alice Springs apprentices Dakota Gillett and Lek Maloney, who have five wins each.

It was a slow start to the 2023/24 program for Logan, who won her first race on Red Wraith on October 22 – ending a drought stretching back to April 8 after landing a treble on Day 1 of the Alice Springs Cup Carnival.

Red Centre wins dried up towards the end of last season, but for the first half of the 2022/23 period Logan was unstoppable before sealing the premiership with 26 wins from Gillett (24).

The last 12 months have been a rollercoaster for Logan, who led Top End and Country jockeys’ premiership clearly before being swamped by Jarrod Todd, following a wrist operation in December and a well-publicised assault in July before marrying Darwin trainer Tom Logan in August.

Logan, equal fourth in the Top End and Country standings with five wins behind Todd (17), apprentice Emma Lines (12) and Nicholls (8), will appeal a careless riding charge on Monday after receiving a one-meeting ban after guiding Tayarn Halter’s City Regal to victory at Fannie Bay on Melbourne Cup Day.

Gardner, who has started the Alice season spectacularly, now boasts 11 wins to lead Whittle (8), Greg Connor (5) and Ray Viney (4) in the trainers’ race.

Red Wraith, a four-year-old gelding by Charm Spirit, made it four straight wins when he led throughout to sink Whittle’s last start winner Excuses Excuses ($3) and Dan Morgan’s Boy Big ($8.50), who was also aiming for four straight wins before blowing the start, by 3.7 lengths over 1100m (0-70).

Shepliments, a four-year-old mare by Magnus, finally saluted in her eighth appearance at Pioneer Park, which was also her 17th career start, in a dramatic 1200m maiden.

There was a mad scramble for the early lead before five horses settled out in front – Shepliments, who had finished third twice in her three previous starts, wasn’t far behind in the second group.

Turning for home and with 350m there were horses everywhere, but disastrously the Connor-trained Black Shiraz (Maloney) – sitting five deep with the leaders – was pulled up after injuring the suspensory ligament in his right leg and was euthanised.

Shepliments and Terry Gillett’s Macer’s Razor ($7.50), both dropping back in class, found a gap close to the rails to shoot clear at the 200m with the former overcoming the latter by 0.4 lengths – Kevin Lamprecht’s new arrival Skilton ($4) was 3.4 lengths adrift in third place.

Logan’s win on Great Buy occurred in an open 1200m handicap with Terry Gillett also running Supreme Times ($1.95 fav) and Mel’s Legacy ($101) and wife Leanne starting Esashi ($15) in the four-horse field.

Esashi led early, but second-placed Great Buy, a seven-year-old gelding by Helmet, took charge at the 400m as third-placed Supreme Times, who had won two of his previous three starts, attempted to erase a two-length deficit.

No chance as Great Buy found another gear to make it two wins from three starts to belt Supreme Times, who rolled Great Buy three weeks ago, by 4.2 lengths with Mel’s Legacy catching Esashi for third.

Stan Tsaikos, the back to back winner of the jockeys’ premiership in Central Australia before relinquishing the title to Logan, partnered Supreme Times.

Terry Gillett’s Supreme Attraction, who was scratched, won the $100,000 Pioneer Sprint (1200m) in April and would have started the race on Saturday as favourite, but he would have had his hands full based on the manner of Great Buy’s performance.

It may have taken the Will Savage-trained $3.60 bookmaker favourite Talent Quest, a five-year-old gelding by Your Song, ages to enter the barriers, but he proved too good for his rivals over 1100m (0-58).

Placed in four of his seven previous starts, Talent Quest was eyeing that elusive Alice victory and led his rivals a merry dance after catching early leader Superior Power at the 800m.

With the in-form Casey Hunter in the saddle, Talent Quest was in good shape turning for home and although there was a wall of horses in hot pursuit he was never threatened before downing Viney’s Debbonaire Boy ($12), who did little wrong, by two lengths.

Connor’s Radio Room ($5.50), eight lengths behind Talent Quest at the 800m, and Bold Tropic ($4), the only horse ahead of his stablemate exiting the back straight, finished strongly along the rails with the former pipping the latter for third.

It was shocking for Connor and Maloney following Black Shiraz’s demise in the opening race, but the day ended positively for both when Flying Artie’s four-year-old gelding Flying Yishu ($4.20) streeted the opposition by four lengths over 1400m (0-64).

In is sixth Alice start, Flying Yishu was among six horses vying for the early lead before the first corner and settled in fourth place along the back straight as he strived to make it three wins after three consecutive seconds.

Viney’s Strike Eagle, the $3.70 favourite in an open race, sat three wide outside Blueant, camped on the rails, and Nicotera, aiming for three straight wins, approaching the final bend as Flying Yishu, with Maloney claiming 3kg, poised to strike.

Strike Eagle, with two seconds and a third in Alice, hit the front turning for home, but with 200m to go he had no answer for Flying Yishu, while Terry Gillett’s Tintern Power ($6.50), well adrift at the 600m, claimed third from Savage’s Pariah Conviction ($101), one other fast-finishing backmarker.

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