More than a dozen local businesses chose to hold their Christmas celebrations at the race meeting run by the Gawler and Barossa Jockey Club on Saturday, December 15.
Gawler and Barossa Jockey Club chief executive Shane Collins said he had been delighted with the race day which attracted a huge crowd happy to enjoy a day at the races.
“The marquee areas, beyond the mounting yard, was very well patronized and everyone enjoyed the day,” Mr Collins said.
“It was our first chance to really build the day for Christmas functions and we were very happy with the result. It was a day we could certainly build on given the opportunity again next year.
“It is good for the locals, and it really is a good promotion for the racing industry.”
Angaston trainer Tony McEvoy is looking forward to a good campaign with First Diamond which resumed with an all-the-way in Coopers Dry Handicap (1200m).
A $3.30 chance, First Diamond, ridden by Jason Holder scored a two-length win from No Joy ($2.25 fav) with City Beats ($17), a long neck away third.
Assistant trainer Calvin McEvoy said the three-year-old filly had a solid grounding for her return to racing.
“We gave her a jumpout as a lead up which she won well and although it looked a hot race, we thought she would go well,” McEvoy said.
“She had a good two-year-old season winning two races but being by Delago Deluxe we expect her to get erven better as a three and four-year-old.”
First Diamond was syndicated by JHB Syndications and has a large group of female owners based around Australia and overseas.
Alaskan Jade, trained at Gawler, made it two wins in a row with a photo-finish last-stride win in the Prince Albert Hotel Gawler Handicap (1100m).
Jockey Jason Holder timed his ride perfectly on Alaskan Storm ($11) which short a short half head win from Street Life ($7) with Wing Snipper ($31), a length away third.
The victory brought up a double for Holder who had won earlier in the day on First Diamond.
Trainer Darren Magro said he had warned Holder that the winner was a mare which had to come with a late run.
“Jason followed the instructions to perfection,” Magro said.
“Two wins in a row is a just reward for her as she hasn’t had a lot of luck during her career.
“With good senior riders such as Jamie (Kah) and Jason (Holder) on Alaskan Storm in her past two starts has been crucial – they have both ridden her very well.”
Gawler co-trainers Clint Binnie and Kerri McAnulty have had a great year with Buried Treasure which led throughout in the Ausbia Electrical Handicap (1500m).
The late-starting six-year-old now has six wins from just 15 starts and took his stakes past $90,000.
Buried Treasure also has a love affair with his home track having won five of his seven starts at the venue.
Ridden by Todd Pannell, Buried Treasured ($3.80) scored a three-quarter length win from Savatag ($5.50) which had chased the leader for all of the race with Chapel City ($8), 1-1/4 lengths away third.
The victory earned Buried Treasure a start in the $100,000 Alcopop final at Morphettville on Wednesday, December 26 but Binnie said the gelding wasn’t a definite starter.
“Todd said he thought the horse had jarred up a bit today, so we will monitor him over the next few days before making a decision,” Binnie said.
“He has done a great job, so we are looking to only give him maybe just one more run before a spell, but he will tell us if he is already ready for a break.”
Binnie said they had always been confident the gelding could stretch out to 1500 metres after showing good speed early in his career over shorter trips.”
Former New Zealand galloper Handsome Return, part-owned by Gawler father-and-son, Peter and Michael McLean, lived up to his name with his second win from as many starts in Australia taking out the Barossa Wines At The Races – Sat Jan 12 th Handicap (1700m).
Trained by Will Clarken, Handsome Return backed from $2.80 into $1.90 favourite scored a 1-½ length win from Set To Cruise ($3.60) with the winner’s stablemate El Desperado ($10), a half-length away third.
The winner was ridden by Jamie Kah who brought up a double having won the opening event on Aagas.
Kah had Handsome Return fourth on the fence early before allowing him to stride forward around the home turn and coming off to make a challenge for victory.
Handsome Return quickly drew clear to win easily.
Clarken said the six-year-old would now go to the $100,000 Alcopop Series final at Morphettville on Wednesday, December 26 as would El Desperado.
“I think they both can be competitive in the final,” Clarken said.
The next Gawler meeting is hosted for Friday, December 28, which is day two of the Summer Series run by the Gawler and Barossa Jockey Club.