Melbourne Cup day proved a success for Walcha trainer George Woodward with two wins on the Tamworth track.
Miss Hanson might have been the outsider of the small field but the Walcha mare finished too powerfully for her opponents in today’s $6000 Peel Valley Tyres Class 2 Handicap (1900m) at Tamworth.
Prepared by George Woodward the four-year-old daughter of Host had not won in 13 previous starts but was perfectly ridden by in-form jockey Josh Oliver.
Oliver’s win was his 16th in the Hunter and North West Racing Association this season and left him second, two wins adrift of Greg Ryan.
“He’s riding well,” stable foreman Johno Byrne said after the breakthrough win.
“He’s a good little rider, doesn’t ride for us much though. That might have been his third ride for us.”
Josh Oliver said he had a “nice run” trailing leader Seize Them All and then pouncing as the field turned for home on the tight B Grass track at Tamworth.
She finished strongly for a half length win with Pressing Matters two lengths away third.
“George is a good trainer,” Josh Oliver added as his good run of success continued.
Johno Byrne said the win was good for the Woodward stable, which has around a dozen horses in work.
Miss Hanson might now look for another “similar” 1900m race after she had jumped from 1400m.
She had been tried over the 1900m just once before but that came “at the end of her prep last time in” Johno Byrne said.
In race two, Something Unknown refused to lie down and fought on strongly to hold off race favourite Mr Intrepid and win today’s $6000 Shay Brennan Constructions Maiden Plate (1300m).
The George Woodward-trained gelding claimed a short half head win over Zach Hatch’s Mr Intrepid with Jane Clement’s Starada a length and a quarter away third.
“That was a good win,” said stable foreman Johno Byrne.
“We only brought the two down and we’re going home with two wins.”
While Josh Oliver had ridden Miss Hanson to victory in the first race Armidale jockey Geoff Snowden had the reins at Tamworth and earned his riding fee.
“He was reefing and fighting me all the way,” Geoff Snowden said.
“He’s a big horse and when we paraded I though he’s not going to handle this inside track. He could hardly go around the corners but got round all right and I didn’t miss him at the end.”
The new season has been a good one for Geoff.
The 55-year-old jockey, who first started riding in 1980, has been dogged by bad luck with injury over the last few years.
“This is the best start to a season I’ve had for a long time,” he said.
“I’ve ridden almost double figures whereas in previous years I’ve been nowhere near that.”
He’s also hopeful of continuing that run and adding to his career total which he thinks sits somewhere in the 900s.