Happy camper with Airalign’s Sandown win

Owner-breeder Michael Hibberd hopes the holidaying community at a beachside camping ground took his advice and backed Sandown winner Airalign.

“I’m camping down at the beach at Rosebud which I have done all my life,” Hibberd said.

“I tipped it to everybody in the campsite and hopefully they’ve all gone to the Rosebud pub and backed him.

“Hopefully it’s made their Christmas.”

Ridden by apprentice Ben Allen, Airalign ($6.50) took out the fourth heat of the Swettenham Stud Summer Championship on Saturday, scoring a 2-1/4 length victory over Bassett ($5) with Inspector ($12) 1-3/4 lengths away third.

Hibberd bred Airalign’s dam Grosvenaire and said he was responsible for bringing Airalign’s sire Align to stand at Hillview Stud in New Zealand.

Now a seven-year-old, Airalign was having his 20th start on Saturday, recording his eighth win.

“His mother was a very good horse and so is this horse but she didn’t play up as much him,” Hibberd said.

“I found with horses out of the mare they are better to race later and you also get that time out of them at the other end.”

Airalign was scratched at the barriers at Flemington a fortnight ago and trainer Tom Cowan was forced to take him back to the trials.

He said the gelding had a solid hit-out which had kept him up to the mark.

Now Cowan is considering a step up to Listed grade in the Chester Manifold Stakes at Flemington on January 14.

“He couldn’t have won any better than he did today and we may have a throw at the stumps in a race like that or keep him for the final of this series,” Cowan said.

“The final’s over 1700 metres at Caulfield and he’s raced well there before.”

Mark Zahra was fined $300 for failing to ride Ladbrokes Up For The Challenge winner Rewarding Effort out to the line.

The $1.85 favourite looked set for a comfortable win before scoring by three-quarters-of-a-length from Castle Hackett ($41).

Racing Victoria steward Rob Montgomery told Zahra they would have been at Sandown all night if he was beaten.

Zahra said there was no excuses for relaxing other than he thought Rewarding Effort was home.

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