Spending money for US trip

Cambridge trainer Ross McCarroll picked up some holiday spending money when he enjoyed a 100 percent strike rate at Matamata today.

McCarroll saddled up Royal Sceptre to clear maiden ranks in the Landmark Vets 1200 and a race later the stablemate Priceless notched his first win in the Reid & Harrison (1980) Ltd 1400.

Making the day even more special was the fact McCarroll races Royal Sceptre in partnership with Wayne Dollimore and Priceless is owned by McCarroll’s wife, Delwyn.

“It’s come at a good time because we’re off to the United States next week for a month,” said McCarroll. “We’re going over for the Belmont Stakes and the Preakness Stakes. It’s something we’ve wanted to do for a long time.”

Priceless had the better form of the two McCarroll runners today, but the trainer thought Royal Sceptre was a stronger prospect on trackwork. Priceless’ win was therefore a bonus on the day.

Royal Sceptre had been unplaced in three starts, but had been a bit unlucky in the last of those runs when blocked for a run in the home straight. He ended up eighth and the winner was the subsequent NZ Derby victor Silent Achiever.

Royal Sceptre hinted a win may not be far away when successful at the recent Paeroa trials and aboard that day was Laura Woods, who has been riding work for McCarroll for the past six months.

“I knew he could win today,” said Woods after winning today’s race. “He had plenty left when he won that trial. I was so confident about winning.”

A former successful apprentice, Woods made a comeback last year when riding work for her former employer Graeme Rogerson and also Cambridge trainer Shaune Ritchie.

She broke through for a comeback win on Opal Creek at Te Awamutu last February and completed a double on the horse on the same track the following month. Opal Creek is prepared by Tracey Wilson, who works for McCarroll.

“It’s great to see Laura get a winner for us,” said McCarroll. “People tend to forget she was a good apprentice and she doesn’t get many rides.”

Woods was equally thrilled to win for McCarroll and along with Wilson she will help manage the team while the trainer is on holiday.

Woods travels each day from Hamilton to ride work at Cambridge and juggles the workload with that of being a mother to two sons. “It all works in well because my partner is at home looking after them while I am at the track and when I get home he goes out driving his truck,” said Woods. “One of us is always with the kids.”

The other winning ride for McCarroll today was Harry Kasim, who got the best out of Priceless to score a sound win. Priceless had been an unlucky second on debut then third when resuming on a hard track.

“He needs the sting out, but I was a bit worried it might be too heavy for him,” said McCarroll.