By David Nagel
Cranbourne trainers thoroughly enjoyed the journey to their closest metropolitan track on Saturday with the Casey-clan dominating proceedings by training six of the nine winners at Sandown Hillside.
Unique winning doubles to Gavin Bedggood and Mick Kent were the standout performances on the day, while John Price and Richard Laming didn’t miss out on the Cranbourne-party with their own individual triumphs.
Bedggood’s training career reached a new high on Saturday, scoring a winning metropolitan double, with great mates No Effort and Sir Kalahad making the most of an on-pace bias to score impressive all-the-way victories.
No Effort gave Bedggood and jockey Carleen Hefel their first taste of success when the six-year-old mare put on a dominant display in race five, leading throughout and holding on late in the $125,000 Open Handicap (1800m).
Hefel showed great courage to kick clear and build a strong lead at the top of the straight before staving off the fast finish of race favourite Bedford in the shadows of the post.
Hefel and Bedggood then repeated the dose in race eight, landing a massive betting plunge with six-year-old gelding Sir Kalahad running his rivals ragged to score by five-and-a-half lengths.
Hefel and Sir Kalahad made the $125,000 Three-Year-Old Handicap (1300m) a one-act affair, using the preferred conditions of a heavy track and light weight to give nothing else a chance.
Sir Kalahad raced one off the fence, outside the early leader Alsvin, before dashing clear at the 400-metre pole for a dominant victory.
Bedggood said the metropolitan winning double was certainly one of the milestone days of his training career.
“Right up there with winning a grand annual or something like that,” Bedggood explained to Racing.com after the race.
“To train one city winner on a Saturday is a big thing, but to get two is great, especially these two horses.
“They live together, they sleep side-by-side together, they go to the track every morning together, they do everything together, so it’s great.”
Bedggood wasn’t sure whether to take on the quality Saturday-class field or leave his steed to prosper four days later. Six scratchings from the race helped with the decision-making process.
“I knew he’d be a red-hot chance with 51 and a half on a heavy track, but I was umming and ahhing about running today and going to the benchmark 70, 1200 (metres), at Sandown on Wednesday, only because there looked to be really good pressure in this race today,” he said.
“He’s best when he finds the front and gets a couple of cheap sections, and then skip away, and I knew that wasn’t going to happen here with a full field.”
Bedggood said Sir Kalahad had now provided great value after originally putting a strain on his coffers.
“This horse, I had to go and buy him with money I didn’t have, and I actually got left with half of him when I sold him, I couldn’t find owners for him,” Bedggood said.
“That’s his second win in town now since we’ve had him, his fourth win in 18 months. When he gets his conditions to suit, with no weight, he’s a big threat.”
Hefel, who does little or no work for the Bedggood yard, said the on-speed tactics were the key to their winning double.
“Yeah, pretty much, we just had to ignore the leader on the inside, do our own race, and he was too strong again.” Hefel said of Sir Kalahad.
“I have to brutally honest I haven’t done any work for Gavin but I really appreciate the rides he has given me today, especially as they have both gone so well.
“I know Gavin puts a lot of effort into his horses, they always look so well, and I know there’s a lot of hard work behind the scenes.”
Kent, a veteran of the Cranbourne training ranks, broke a four-year drought when he trained Comica and Falls to victory in races three and six respectively.
The double for Kent, who last struck twice on a metropolitan track at Caulfield in 2017, was never in doubt with Falls giving his rivals a galloping lesson in the $75,000 Benchmark 78 Handicap (1600m).
The five-year-old gelding was nursed perfectly by gun-jockey Damian Lane before streaking clear of his opposition for a four-length victory.
Price made his contribution when Chassis won the fourth race on the card, while Laming sent punters scurrying for their race books when his despised outsider, Sarodec, won the second leg of the quaddie.
The three-year-old son of Kermadec is working through his grades nicely, with Saturday’s win his third from just eight starts.
Sandown’s next two meetings will be both be on the Lakeside track, this Wednesday 16 and then Wednesday 30 June.