Trainer John Thompson and jockey Blake Shinn have extended their successful association at Warwick Farm, masterminding a maiden winner and first city victory.
Cuba got off the mark at his seventh start for the Randwick trainer while Our Belisa finally celebrated a city win at her eighth attempt.
The three-year-old Cuba opened his account as the $2.30 favourite when he held off debutant Higher Ground ($10) to win Wednesday’s 1300m-maiden by half a neck.
Cuba had been a source of frustration for Thompson but a step back in distance and an aggressive ride from Shinn combined to produce the desired result.
“We rode him more positively. The plan was to do that at Kembla but he missed the kick,” Thompson said.
Cuba finished third in a 1500m maiden at Kembla Grange on September 17.
“At least we learned that day the 1500 was too far for him,” Thompson said.
Shinn was pleased to get the win for Thompson.
“He’s been a little bit of a frustrating horse for John Thompson and (owner) John McGrath so it was nice to see him deliver,” he said.
Thompson and Shinn also combined with Our Belisa ($3.90 fav) holding off Smooth Whiskey by a nose to win a benchmark 76 Handicap (1600m).
“She’s well deserving of a city win. She had it won about the furlong so credit to the second horse for nearly getting there,” Thompson said.
“Eleven out of 10 for the ride. From the barrier (9) Blake got across, didn’t panic and come into the race at the right time.
“The ride won the race.”
Thompson and Shinn first met when the trainer was foreman for the legendary Bart Cummings.
Since Thompson started training in his own right Shinn has ridden several winners for him including First Seal in the Group One Flight Stakes in 2014.
“We’ve been a good combo for a while so it’s good to get another winner for him,” Shinn said.
Thompson also had luck in the stewards room when Tahsin ($9) was upgraded from fourth to a dead heat for third with Alliterate ($12) in a Benchmark 74 Handicap (1400m) won by So Spirited.
The judges placed Alliterate ($12) third but Thompson and connections successfully argued the photo was inconclusive because second-placed Carluca obscured the finish.