It was a red-letter day for Benalla trainers at the Wodonga races on Tuesday.
In the $22,000 McRae Motors Handicap over 1200m the Wayne Nichols trained Red Octane ran the field off its feet after a tactical ride from Alexandra Bryan.
Under instructions to capitalise on the five-year-old gelding’s gate speed and its barrier three draw, Bryan had the horse up and running from the jump, getting a run on the rail just behind leader Carwelkin.
And that’s how it ran until they straightened for home; at which point Bryan let his mount go.
Even the course commentator praised the run because horses don’t often like being stuck a neck behind another one.
But despite the potential for it too all go wrong Red Octane quickly – and easily – put it out of reach as it transferred its gate speed to a turn of foot in the home straight.
Nichols said he told Bryan several of the starters all had a bit of early pace and cautioned her “so don’t let anything get across you today”.
He described Red Octane as a “high speed horse that needs to be allowed to roll along”.
“The jockey certainly did enough to stop the other one from getting across her and that set up the race,” Nichols said.
“He’s a very hot horse, even when you spell him, and last time in never got a really proper spell and never got out; but this last time we bit the bullet and put him in a big, proper paddock with lots of mates, he added.
“It might make the horse long term and considering he had a wind operation even before he started racing I don’t reckon you’ve seen the best of him yet.”
Ninety minutes later and Benalla’s Russell Osborne got a bit ahead of himself, winning the penultimate race instead of the last for the day.
In the $22,000 bet365 Top Tote Plus over 1300m his four-year-old mare Red Impulse showed why she was sent out the 3/1 favourite.
With Ethan Brown aboard, Red Impulse was well-placed just off the speed all the way.
Until Brown pulled the trigger and sent Red Impulse charging around the outside – going three and four wide as the field turned for home in search of a clear run.
When she straightened up Red Impulse had hit the front and vigorous riding from Brown opened a gap on everyone except a determined Great Bay, which battled hard but finished almost a length in arrears.
Osborne said he had decided to run the mare “a little closer this time and that made it a lot easier for her”.
“Today was a bit of a test, we had put a few away in good form after they finished their previous prep in the hope they would come back even better one,” Osborne explained.
“One of them didn’t so we will go back to the drawing board there,” he said.
Osborne said he could look at the upcoming Benalla Gold Cup for the mare but added “the closer you get to Melbourne the stronger the competition”.
“But when you can see Red Impulse can go up the front and run on like that, well it’s very handy to know and tells us we can run her anywhere.”