Moree trainer Peter Sinclair prepares for first trip to Royal Randwick with two runners
SELF-confessed bushie Peter Sinclair will saddle up his first starters on a Sydney track when stablemates Liberty Head and Beacon line up in the TAB Highway Handicap at Royal Randwick on Saturday.
“Never been to a Sydney track, let alone Randwick . . . let’s hope I don’t get lost,” Sinclair smiled.
And bush loyalty has held tight, with Sinclair announcing ace hoop Brooke Stower will retain the ride on Liberty Head.
Sinclair has enjoyed an extraordinary season and Stower has been there every step of the way.
“To me, the decision to put Brooke on Liberty Head was a no-brainer. As far as I’m concerned, it’s the right thing to do considering the winners she’s ridden for me this season – she’s given me my best season so far and I’ve been training horses for more than 30 years.”
The 2019-2020 season has been Sinclair’s best since saddling his first runner back in the late 1980s.
He trained a personal-best five winners on his home track last November – Elle Valentina, Samphire Hoe, Happens Nomore, Mymill and Master Cramsie – and backed up a few weeks later with a quartet of winners at Moree Race Club’s huge Christmas meeting.
In May this year he led back four winners at Moree, with Stower on board all four – Crystal Billy, Disco Mo, More Than Good and Ayeteem.
Sinclair has trained 45-and-a-half winners on NSW country tracks this season, placing him sixth on the New South Wales Country Trainers’ Premiership ladder (as at Wednesday, July 29) behind Kris Lees (117), Matthew Dunn (61), Rodney Robb (58), Paul Perry (48) and Trevor Sutherland (46).
Sinclair has trained an additional five winners over the border in Queensland.
His season was highlighted last September when Upstart and Free Billy quinellaed the Moree Cup, a feat that replicated the trainer’s hometown cup quinella 24 years earlier when Storm Boy and Diamond Walk ran one-two in Moree’s signature race.
Coincidentally, Storm Boy was part-owned by Danny Bourke, who also part-owns Liberty Head with Warwick and Janice Bull.
“The season just finished is one of the best I’ve had – if not the best as far as winners are concerned – and I’ve got people like Brooke and my stable foreman Amee Hobday and all my staff to thank for that,” Sinclair said.
“The winners I’ve trained this season, or in previous seasons for that matter, weren’t just my doing.
“The success the stable has had would not have been possible without the help of my stable apprentice Jacob Golden, stablehand Rebecca McMahon, my wife Jenny, work rider Guy Tribe and my good mate Jimmy Stevens, who is always a passenger in the truck on the long trips to the races each week,” he said.
Beacon, with 2kg-claiming apprentice Chris Williams booked to ride, has been whacked with 62kg. Liberty Head, chasing a hat-trick on Saturday after emphatic wins at Moree and Tamworth in recent weeks, will carry 57kg.
Stower, fresh from five rides at Taree on Tuesday, said teaming up in town with the Sinclair stable was not only an honour, but a career milestone.
“I wouldn’t be where I am today without Pete, there’s no question,” Stower said.
“Pete is a great man. It would be a dream come true – not just riding a Sydney winner for him but doing it for the Sinclair team would be a highlight of my career.
“Pete is one of the most loyal supporters I’ve ever had in my career and to be a part of his first trip to Sydney, well, I’m honoured – I think of the Sinclairs and his foreman Amee like my family,” she said.
“Liberty Head is a nice horse and I think he deserves his chance in Sydney, and I can’t thank Pete and the owners enough for sticking with me and taking me to the big smoke.”
Despite this being Sinclair’s first trip to the races in Sydney, he is no stranger to Highway Handicaps.
Sinclair shares ownership of Highway Handicap winner Hellenism, which created a huge impression when saluting at Randwick in late January.
The mare, educated and pre-trained by Sinclair before transferring to Brett Dodson and then Aiden St Vincent at Coffs Harbour, also notched a brace of Highway Handicap minor placings in April and May.
She was touted as a very live Kosciusko chance before minor injury forced her to the spelling paddock.
It is hoped Hellenism will return to the track later this year for a serious crack at the New South Wales Country Championships in 2021.
“Hellenism is a very good mare and she was very impressive when winning at Randwick,” Sinclair said.
With just three days remaining of the 2019-2020 racing season, Kris Lees has the State title wrapped up with 193 winners, 35 of those trained on city tracks and 41 at the provincials.
Blaike McDougall leads the New South Wales Country Jockeys’ Premiership with 116-and-a-half winners, 13-and-a-half clear of mercurial Dubbo hoop Greg Ryan.
Words: Bill Poulos
Image: Courtesy of www.bradleyphotos.com.au