Excellent Reward for Brennan

Cambridge trainer Lauren Brennan celebrated her most important win when Excellent Reward scored an upset win in the Listed John Turkington Forestry Castletown Stakes at Waverley today.

It was the first stakes win for Brennan, who prepares Excellent Reward for Cambridge couple Marc and Sarah Devcich, of Henley Park. The Devcich’s bought Excellent Reward as a weanling from the Magic Millions sale in Queensland for $A35,000 and offered him at last year’s Select Sale at Karaka, but the horse failed to reach his $50,000 reserve and was passed in at $42,500.

Excellent Reward, a son of Exceed And Excel and the unraced Viscount mare Lindisfarne, showed promise with two trials placings, but made an inglorious debut when bucking off his rider Jason Waddell soon after the start in an 1100-metre race at Pukekohe on April 4.

Andrew Calder was aboard Excellent Reward in his next two public appearances, a trials run at Te Teko and a fifth to Dorian Grey at Te Aroha, then Waddell was back in the saddle when the promising youngster was pipped right on the line by Killarney Kid at Pukekohe on May 7.

On the strength of that performance Brennan decided to chase the Foxton Racing Club’s feature event with Excellent Reward and Waddell was happy to take the mount.

Excellent Reward came up against 10 winners in the Castletown Stakes, but proved too strong after being given a good run by Waddell. He was travelling well coming to the turn and after hitting the front held on to beat the late finisher Julinsky Prince by a long neck.

The win certainly put Excellent Reward back in the good books with Waddell, who predicted the horse would be much better on firmer footing than the slow track he encountered today.

Brennan had been quietly confident of a bold showing from Excellent Reward, but her confidence was dampened with overnight rain which saw the track downgraded from dead yesterday.

Though it was Brennan’s first stakes win, the talented horsewoman has experienced Group placings with Doctor Freemantle, who  was third to Shez Sinsational and Veyron in the Group I Zabeel Classic at Ellerslie last Boxing Day and third to Riomoral in the Group II Lawnmaster Awapuni Gold Cup.

Thrilled with the win, Brennan now plans to give Excellent Reward a spell with a view to concentrating on some of the early spring features, including the Guineas races.