Write Your Name makes successful Alice Springs return

Write Your Name
The Dick Leech-trained Write Your Name (right), ridden by Darwin apprentice Jade Hampson, posting a narrow win at Pioneer Park on Saturday. Picture: Nikki Westover Photography

Write Your Name, Horse of the Year in both Darwin and Alice Springs last year, made a winning return in the Red Centre on Saturday.

The Dick Leech-trained eight-year-old gelding, who won the 2023 Darwin and Alice Springs Cups, finished strongly before saluting in an open 1200m handicap.

It was his first Pioneer Park appearance since winning the Alice Springs Cup (2000m) last April and it was his first start since finishing eighth in the Murray Bridge Cup (1600m) last October.

With Alice Springs’ Cup Carnival imminent, Write Your Name could be set for yet another successful campaign.

A dominant force last year after winning four races in five weeks, Write Your Name ($6) overcame four rivals on Saturday after hitting the front with 100m remaining to pip Ray Viney’s Kickatorp ($3.50) by a head.

The in-form Great Buy ($1.95) had led for most of the way, but with 300m to go all five runners were spread across the track.

Terry Gillett’s Great Buy finished third ahead of stablemates Valley Prince and last year’s Pioneer Sprint winner Supreme Attraction.

Kickatorp was forced four deep turning for home and that clearly cost him victory.

Darwin apprentice Jade Hampson, fresh from a Darwin treble on Friday, partnered Write Your Name on Saturday – both combined to win last year’s Cup.

On an eventful day, only one favourite prevailed at Pioneer Park.

Viney and jockey Jessie Philpot secured a double with Duty ($2.30) and Tango Stepz ($5.50), while veteran jockey Paul Denton hit the front in the Alice Springs and Provincial jockeys’ premiership with a double.

Duty produced a spectacular effort to down Mi Mijo ($26) and Prophesier ($16) over 1600m (BM54).

Eight lengths adrift in 10th place passing the 1100m, Duty was the last of 12 at the 700m and with his path blocked Philpot elected to circle the field.

He was forced seven deep turning for home and never looked like catching Mi Mijo and Prophesier before swooping at the 100m to win by 1.7 lengths.

Tango Stepz, camped in third place, left the fence approaching the final corner before overcoming Bullinachinashop ($2.50) and Madam Mischief ($5.50) by two lengths over 1000m (0-64).

Denton, who surpassed Sonja Logan (11.5) with 12 wins for the season, won both divisions of the Class 2 (1100m) aboard Lisa Whittle’s Il Don Cavallo ($12) and Kerry Petrick’s Hellivit ($21).

Il Don Cavallo, who travelled wide, won narrowly from Protostar ($2.05) and Miss Miduki ($9), while Hellivit, who shared the lead, kicked away at the 600m before downing Lamoree ($5) and Rupert’s Delight ($7) by two lengths.

Carrol Hunter’s Desert Lass ($9.50), second in last year’s Alice Springs Cup, bounced back after a first up seventh in open class over 1200m a fortnight ago to sink That’s Justified ($3.50) and Century Fox ($2.80) over 1400m (BM76).

The seven-year-old mare was never far from the lead before passing That’s Justified at the 100m to seal a comfortable win.

Visiting Adelaide apprentice Jade Doyle, formerly of Alice Springs, partnered Desert Lass.

Paul Gardner (16) maintained his advantage over Whittle (13) in the trainers’ premiership when Perkova ($17) caught stablemate Red Wraith ($3.50) – returning from a spell – right on the line to win by a head over 1200m (0-70).

Perkova (Dylan Stanley) jumped well from the outside gate (nine) and travelled smoothly despite sitting wide throughout before chasing down Red Wraith, Square Cut ($3.50), who finished a narrow third, and Brat in the home straight.

With three wins and four minor placings from 12 starts for Gardner, Perkova was way over the odds.

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