Trained in Grafton by John Shelton, talented mare Tara Jasmine stormed to victory in the Jacaranda Prelude on October 19, maintaining her unbeaten record on her home track. Image: Racing NSW Screenshot.

Grafton galloper in purple patch following jacaranda prelude success

Emma Pritchard

The blooming purple trees along Turf and Cranworth Streets provided the Clarence River Jockey Club (CRJC) with a perfect setting for the running of the Jacaranda Prelude on October 19.

With 60 horses competing across a seven-race program and the track surface rated a Heavy 8 following recent downpours, punters went searching for gallopers with prominent wet track form ahead of Race 1, the Maiden Handicap over 1710m.

While the consistent mare Shukkas was heavily backed following her recent placings on wet tracks, it was the Stephen Lee trained Kawuneechee (NZ) who stormed to victory inside the final 100m to break his maiden at start number 19, and give his Ballina based trainer a memorable birthday present.

During the post-race interview, jockey Ashley Morgan revealed while Kawuneechee (NZ) didn’t handle the wet track, the horse never stopped trying and deserved the win.

After four-year-old entire and former Victorian galloper Golden Point charged across the line at the odds of 15/1 in Race 2, Westlawn Finance Maiden Handicap over 1106m, punters had to wait until Our Castaway took out Race 4, Christmas Race Day 28 November Maiden Plate over 1410m before they could cheer another favourite past the winning post.    

Direct Heat (pink and white silks) leads the field down the back stretch in Race 4, Christmas Race Day 28 November Maiden Plate over 1410m at Grafton last week. Image: Emma Pritchard

Following a track upgrade to a Soft 7, 30/1 shot China Grove surprised punters by winning Race 5, XXXX Gold Class 2 Handicap over 1410m before their attention quickly turned to the feature event on the program, the Jacaranda Prelude over 1106m.

And there was only one horse they wanted to be on.

Unbeaten on her home track and stepping up in class, talented mare Tara Jasmine paraded beautifully in the mounting yard ahead of her toughest assignment to date.

Described by jockey Ben Looker as “hard to beat” during a pre-race interview, Tara Jasmine jumped away fairly from an outside barrier and settled towards the rear of the field as Bel Academy assumed the early lead.

Sticking to the inside, Looker steered the four-year-old daughter of Cowboy Blue between Bel Academy and She’s Choosie at the 300m mark as the $1.90 favourite hit top gear and surged ahead to record her fifth career win at start number 11 and take her prizemoney over $100000.

As the winner of the Jacaranda Prelude, Tara Jasmine is now exempt from the ballot for the 2021 Jacaranda Cup which will be run on November 3.

Should she take her place, the John Shelton trained mare will again prove hard to beat.