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Opening Day

by Zeb Armstrong for AJRA

On the 1st day of the jumps season, one would expect Eric Musgrove to grab a win or two over the sticks – but to win the feature hurdle race and a 1300m flat race? Well this is exactly what happened and if day one of the jumps season is anything to go by, Eric is again in for one big season.

Agreement was a fairly performed hurdler before heading into Tuesday’s BM125 Hurdle over 3200m. The gelding had two major competitors in the market; the Waterhouse trained Valediction and the up and coming jumper Yolanda Be Cool. During the race, a race where all horses ran very well, you only wanted to be on Agreement. Valediction found the lead about 1000m out with Agreement stalking the Zabeel gelding everywhere he went. After jumping the final obstacle perfectly, Agreement and Yolanda Be Cool staged a ‘battle royal’ as Rick Mackintosh described it with Valediction whacking away two lengths behind under top weight. Agreement appeared as if he was tuned up perfectly for this season opening jumps race, and he had the miles in his legs and a touch of class as to be able to lift and lift again to hold off both other horses that were fancied in the market.

This was a great win and a real sign of things to come. Such a faultless display immediately had those at the track talking about the Brierly Steeplechase and even the Classic Hurdle at Oakbank in the meantime. These decisions are of course up to Eric, but historically the jumpers that start the season with a bang generally hold their form and Agreement indeed put in a faultless display 1st up over the jumps.

Photo courtesy of Rob Gunstone via The Standard website

An hour or so after Agreement saluted, Eric Musgrove saddled up the lightly raced mare La Sobrina. This mare has now won two from five and on Tuesday at Warrnambool after they had gone 200m, again, like with Agreement, the punters would not have wanted to be on any other runner. The daughter of New Zealand sire El Hermano had the perfect sit 3rd behind the two favourites in the race who were going quite hard in front. For just about every inch of the 1300m trip, La Sobrina enjoyed the perfect run, and when the time for action come, Jack Hill extracted the mare from behind her major rivals and she went straight past them and managed to hold off the swoopers that were coming late.

This was an impressive win, a brilliant ride and a perfect way to cap off a great ‘opening day’ for Australia’s leading jumps trainer.

Congratulations to the owners both of Agreement and La Sobrina. Both horses are on very different paths, but both are indeed doing everything right as we speak. Well done also to Paddy Flood and Jack Hill on great rides. The horses need to be steered and both boys produced great rides on Tuesday to bring the Musgrove stable a very memorable double. Well done to all.

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