Logan, Whittle claim winning treble at Alice Springs

Darwin-based Sonja Logan, the champion jockey in the Alice Springs and Provincial premiership last season, was back to her best at Pioneer Park on Saturday with a winning treble. Picture: Nikki Westover Photography

Trainer Lisa Whittle and jockey Sonja Logan sealed winning trebles at Alice Springs on Saturday.

Whittle, a powerhouse in the Red Centre for 25 years with numerous Alice Springs and Provincial trainers’ premierships in her pocket, is eyeing another title following her success during the 2021/22 season.

She is clearly back in the groove since returning to Central Australia after tipping NT racing on its head earlier this year when she relocated back to South Australia.

Logan, who won her first Territory title last season when she captured the Alice Springs and Provincial jockeys’ premiership, hit back in style after a quiet start to the 2023/24 campaign.

The Darwin-based rider couldn’t stop riding winners early last season and then the wins dried up before she suffered shocking facial injuries when assaulted by a group of men as she sat in her car outside her home in July.

Life improved when Logan (nee Wiseman) married Darwin trainer Tom Logan in August and to ride the first three winners at Pioneer Park on Saturday can only lift her spirits.

Logan, boasting just one Alice win this season, celebrated success on Whittle’s +140 favourite Omoplata, Paul Gardner’s -333.33 favourite Red Wraith and Leanne Gillett’s +3000 outsider Jen’s Reward.

Omoplata, who won an 1100m maiden for Whittle when he first raced in the Red Centre in December 2021, had had five starts for two seconds since returning to the NT in August before getting the cash over 1200m (BM54) on Saturday.

Sharing the early lead with Ray Viney’s Celine (+320), Omoplata hit the front at the 800m and had stablemate Vega Prince for company before skipping away at the 400m approaching the final bend.

Celine rallied in the home straight and looked like posing a threat to Omoplata – a five-year-old gelding by More Than Ready – as Greg Connor’s Bold Tropic (+450) started to make ground.

Omoplata held on from the fast-finishing Bold Tropic to prevail by 0.38 lengths, with Celine 3.2 lengths adrift in third place.

Red Wraith, aiming for three straight wins, sat outside Paketta when they jumped over 1200m (0-66) for the three and four-year-olds before edging clear passing the 500m.

Connor’s Flying Yishu ($3.80), with two wins and two seconds after making his NT debut in July, was sitting third and was within striking distance turning for home.

At the 200m, Red Wraith – a four-year-old gelding by Charm Spirit – was two lengths clear as Flying Yishu headed to the rails in an attempt to bridge the gap, but the leader held on to win by 0.66 lengths with Gardner’s third-placed Shepliments (+5000) eight lengths adrift.

It was back to back wins for Logan over local apprentice Lek Maloney, who was returning from suspension.

No question the win by Jen’s Reward over 1100m (Class 2) was a surprise despite winning a 1200m maiden in August.

The former Victorian mare, a five-year-old by Reward For Effort, had finished third in her seven other Alice starts and settled sixth on Saturday before quickening at the 500m.

Turning for home, Jen’s Reward found a gap up the middle as Will Savage’s $2.20 favourite Talent Quest led the way – Kevin Lamprecht’s Rupert’s Delight (+600) was closing fast.

Talent Quest, who sat four deep before hitting the front at the 800m, tired to finish third with Jen’s Reward sealing victory from Rupert’s Delight by 1.26 lengths.

After several near misses, Maloney had success when Whittle’s Excuses Excuses ($3.60) – wearing blinkers for the first time – produced a scintillating final 200m to seal victory by 3.43 lengths over 1000m (0-64).

The eight-year-old gelding by Kaphero competed for the early lead in the five-horse field before winding up on the fence in second place behind Leanne Gillett’s Esahi (+700).

Viney’s +170 favourite Rock Of Kryptonite, fifth passing the 600m, was on the move turning for home and with 350m to go challenged Esashi and Excuses Excuses for ascendancy.

Excuses Excuses, victorious on his Pioneer Park debut on Alice Springs Cup Day on April 30 for former trainer James Carroll, was representing the Whittle stable for the first time before overcoming Rock Of Kryptonite, who spotted the winner 7kg, and Esashi.

Nicotera, Whittle’s $2.20 favourite, made it back to back wins when he outclassed his rivals by 3.5 lengths over 1400m (0-58) after hitting the front at the 1000m.

The seven-year-old gelding by Nicconi, who didn’t run a place in seven Alice starts last year, shared the early lead after sitting outside Leanne Gillett’s Typically Brazen ($5) before Top End hoop Casey Hunter led her rivals a merry dance.

A winner over 1400m (0-64) a fortnight ago, Nicotera never looked like losing once hitting the front to make it two wins from five starts since returning to the Alice.

Nicotera did it easily with Terry Gillett’s Tintern Power (+400) and Typically Brazen the minor placegetters.

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