Skip to Content

Weekend Wrap: Sangster & Oaks Day

The dust has settled and the opening day of the Adelaide Racing Carnival will long be remembered for all the right reasons.

Robert Sangster Stakes and Australasian Oaks Day was widely considered as the best race day South Australia has served up in decades, it delivered everything and then some.

It was impossible not to be drawn into the importance and emotion with Lachlan Neindorf after he and Climbing Star beat off their big-name interstate rivals in the $1m feature.

Neindorf said leading in, to win a Group 1 on home soil wouldn’t be for him “but for everyone who had helped shape his career.’’

At just 16 he left school, made the move from the Adelaide Hills and called Morphettville home.

He started his career in a blaze, riding 91 winners in his first full season in the saddle that saw him finish fifth in the South Australian Jockey’ Premiership before the bright lights and racing mecca of Melbourne called.

But the opportunities dried up, and coupled with homesickness saw him return to Adelaide just shy of two years later.

At the time he said “racing is a little bit of luck at times, being in the right place at the right time and getting on the right horses and you need to be in a place to give you a position to do that”.

Climbing Star is a shining example and he summed the moment up perfectly “you've got to be (emotional), it shows you care”.

The opportunity to work closely with the Phillip Stokes stable, where he has ridden 15 winners (and 36 placegetters) from just 71 rides in the past three months, has now taken him to the promised land.

It was also another subtle reminder of just how good Phillip Stokes is as a trainer.

The quietly spoken horseman made the bold move to extend his SA stable interstate to Pakenham in 2019 where he has averaged more than 100 wins a season, while his sons Tommy, Kerrin and stable foreman Adam Brewster keep their SA operation rolling seamlessly.

It was his second Sangster Stakes win in three years following Instant Celebrity’s win in 2021, throw in two Adelaide Cup’s during that time and now with seven Group 1 wins on his resume one could argue that Stokes is SA’s best trainer.

There was also a sense of relief in the timely return to winning form of Extremely Lucky in the inaugural John Hawkes Stakes.

A horse who started his career in a blaze and carried a big boom early, he won Lightning Stakes, found himself in the hands of Australia’s biggest trainer Chris Waller where he went unplaced in six runs before his brilliant return on the weekend.

“He’s a horse we spruiked, our stable believes in data and he’s clearly the benchmark of the best horse we’ve trained for that sort of stuff,’’ Clarken said.

“I got a bit of time while he was at Waller’s to think about think I would have done different.

“What he can do is quite astonishing, but they have to do it race day.

“He’s an introverted weird horse, he’s an odd horse to train,’’ he said.

It was a day full of moments.

Mark Zahra’s status as one of the best big race riders enhanced as he stole the Australasian Oaks when he rolled Vibrant Sun to the lead before they defied a host of challengers in the straight, while his dominant win early in the day with Growing Empire won’t be the last time the high-price colt wins a good race.

Patrick Payne was again to the fore with a feature double – Bold Soul claiming the Group 3 Chairman’s Stakes winning the before Seonee claimed the Group 2 Queen Of The South, talented young trainer Mitchell Freedman claiming another big race with exciting filly Skybird who could now find herself taking on some big names in Saturday week’s $1m Group 1 Goodwood.

Post categories

Racing SA - Stories Racing SA - Latest News