McCarroll the strike rate king

Aileen Grace (Sam Weatherley) charging home to beat the hotpot Lasting Friendship at Tauranga yesterday.

Aileen Grace (Sam Weatherley) charging home to beat the hotpot Lasting Friendship at Tauranga yesterday.

Cambridge trainer Ross McCarroll has established the best strike rate for the season thanks to a double at Tauranga yesterday.

McCarroll was successful with Aileen Grace and Calligraphy to take his record for the 2016-17 term to 10 wins and six placings from just 29 starters. That gives him a winning strike rate of 2.9 and places him ahead of more than 170 trainers with three of more winners for the season.

McCarroll runs a boutique stable at Cambridge and is seldom without a good horse or two. He is currently experiencing his best tally since landing the same number of winners (10) in 2012-13.

It was a tip from jockey Matt Cameron who helped pave the way for a breakthrough maiden win of Aileen Grace yesterday.

Cameron had ridden the Ross McCarroll-trained Aileen Grace in her fourth start at Te Rapa earlier this month when finishing ninth of 13 runners.

“It was a terrible run the way she ran greenly and hung,” said McCarroll. “Matt suggested a change of bit and that’s what we’ve done.”

With the switch to a lugging bit, Aileen Grace realised the promise she had shown McCarroll and she did it in impressive fashion in the Bond & Co Menswear Tauranga 1300, charging home from the rear to beat the raging hot favourite Lasting Friendship by a neck.

“I’ve always thought she was a good filly, but she’s had abysmal bad luck. Everything had gone wrong,” said McCarroll.

“She’s had been working great, but she’s a little weak. I just wanted to see her doing everything right.”

Aileen Grace, an Alamosa three-year-old filly, is raced by McCarroll’s wife, Delwyn, and was ridden by Matamata apprentice Sam Weatherley, who was also aboard the stable’s other winner, Calligraphy.

McCarroll and Weatherley have established a good strike rate. Calligraphy was Weatherley’s ninth ride for the stable and took the partnership’s record to five wins and two placings. In fact, it could be six wins as Calligraphy was relegated to second at Te Rapa last December.

Calligraphy (Sam Weatherley) making it look so easy at Tauranga yesterday.

Calligraphy (Sam Weatherley) making it look so easy at Tauranga yesterday.

Weatherley’s first ride on Calligraphy was in that Te Rapa relegation and since then he has ridden her in all bar one of her next four starts. The exception was two starts ago at Ellerslie last February when she was guided to victory by Jason Waddell.

Viktoria Gatu was aboard Calligraphy in her first two wins and Weatherley was thrilled to finally break through for his first “official” win on the Perfectly Ready four-year-old yesterday.

Calligraphy was fresh-up yesterday and she was always travelling like a winner for Weatherley in the Mitre 10 Mega Tauranga 1400. When the young rider released the brakes it was all over and Calligraphy dashed clear to win by four lengths from Keep On Coming.

“She was pretty impressive,” said McCarroll. “She showed a really good turn of foot.

“I think she has come back better. She was getting a bit tired towards the end of her last prep so we gave her three weeks off.”

On the strength of yesterday’s performance, McCarroll is considering a tilt at the Gr.3 $70,000 Classic Cuisine Rotorua Stakes, a weight-for-age fillies and mares 1400 metres at Rotorua on May 13, for the talented mare, whose record stands at four wins and four placings from 11 starts.

“While she is well, we have to have a go at black-type,” said McCarroll.