By Jason Adams
A trio of trainers broke through for their first city winners on a memorable afternoon at Sandown Park on Thursday.
Steve Nagy, Ryan Galea and Emily Azzopardi will each remember the rare Thursday afternoon fixture after joining a growing list of trainers to have tasted success at the circuit in 2021.
Nagy was the first to taste success when Orca caused the upset of the night by winning the third race of the day at a price of $41. It was not only Nagy’s first city win, but also his first win at the track.
“This is my first win here, it’s great!” he said.
“I own and also bred the litter – he’s been the one who has always shown plenty of strength.”
In the following race, 29-year-old Ryan Galea stepped out of his father’s shadows with a victory by new kennel acquisition Dr. Xander (pictured with Ryan’s father Jeff).
“I train with my dad Jeff and we’ve had city winners, but this is the first that I’ve had on my own,” said Galea.
“I was very nervous, Xander had to push at the end and it was an amazing feeling to see him win. We only purchased this dog two weeks ago from Will McMahon. Hopefully we can have more success with him.”
Stay Strong closed out the card with an impressive victory that thrilled her 22 year old trainer, Emily Azzopardi.
“It’s a great feeling to get a city win. The boys that own her have only had her for three starts and she’s showing plenty,” said Azzopardi.
“She’s always up to something mischievous at home – if I could bubble wrap her I would! Despite her cheekiness she’s a sweet girl that loves to work.”
Azzopardi has only been training since early July and has leant on the support from partner and prominent trainer Matt Lanigan.
“Matt’s a massive help, I lean on him for advice and ideas. Matt’s dad Gerald helps us at home so it’s a big family effort.”
With their successes, it brings the number of trainers to have won a race at Sandown Park this year to 197 with 118 of those successful at city level.
In the feature race on the night, one of the sport’s biggest names Tiggerlong Tonk claimed his 41st career win and 13th race at the track,defeating up-and-comer Aston Rupee in a fast time of 29.23.
In the following race, budding stayer Mepunga Ruby dominated to set the second fastest time seen over 715m this year.