Ridley's Bargain Buy

About six seeks ago Brian Ridley was seriously considering buying New South Wales performer The Golden Cross after the gelding had won twice in the space of five days at Menangle, but he was dissuaded by Blythewood trainer Michael Brennan.

Brennan advised Ridley that The Golden Cross was unlikely to be suited to racing on the tighter Gloucester Park circuit and he suggested that he should consider purchasing Rebel With A Grin, who had just set the pace and scored an easy Gloucester Park win over 2503m for champion trainers Greg and Skye Bond.

Ridley now has no regrets that he heeded the sage advice from Brennan, who told Ridley that Rebel With A Grin was up for sale. Ridley paid just $14,000 for the New Zealand-bred four-year-old, who then entered Brennan’s stables and is proving a bargain.

Rebel With A Grin gave an excellent first-up display for Brennan and Ridley when he was held up for a clear run until late when an eye-catching fourth behind stablemate Forgotten Highway in the BOTRA Cup. And then at his fourth start for his new connections, Rebel With A Grin won the Retravision Marathon Handicap, a stand over 3309m at Gloucester Park on Friday night.

This took the gelding’s earnings for Ridley to $16,329 and his new owner is confident of further successes with a pacer who is closely related to a couple of $1 million performers. His sire Smiling Shard was a grand stayer who amassed $1,178,792 from 17 wins and 22 placings from 50 starts, and his dam Highview Chasue is a half-sister to Highview Tommy, a brilliant pacer who earned $1,021,904 from 17 wins and 27 placings from 104 starts.

Rebel With A Grin has certainly inherited much of his staying ability from Smiling Shard, who coincidentally finished second to Highview Tommy in the 3200m group 2 Franklin Cup. And Highview Tommy finished third to Terror To Love in the 3200m group 1 New Zealand Cup in November 2011 and second to the same pacer in the same event 12 months later.

After The Golden Cross had won two in a row at Menangle in mid-June, rating 1.52.1 over 1609m and 1.54.6 over 2300m Ridley said: “I was looking very seriously at buying him, but Michael (Brennan) told me that he was a seven-year-old unlikely to be suited to WA racing and that I should buy Rebel With A Grin, a four-year-old with a promising future.”

Rebel With A Grin’s victory on Friday night made amends for This Time Dylan’s second to Rocket Reign in the 2014 Marathon Handicap. This Time Dylan was owned by Ridley and trained by Brennan, who then prepared Naughty Maravau and The Bucket List for seconds in the 2016 and 2017 Marathon Handicaps, respectively.

Friday night’s win by Rebel With A Grin brought to mind another of Ridley’s bargain purchases. He outlaid $20,000 to buy This Time Dylan in a claiming race in December 2103, and at his third start for his new owner finished third behind Hokonui Ben in the WA Pacing Cup in January 2014. 

This Time Dylan, whose many victories included the group 3 2014 Narrogin Cup and the Mount Eden-No Dill Christmas Handicap in December 2016, earned Ridley more than $150,000 in prizemoney. Ridley’s other feature successes have been with Kasey John in the Kerry Clarke Four And Five-Year-Old Classic in August 2018 and Back On Board in the group 3 Four Year-Old Championship in March 2015.

Rebel With A Grin, a $11.50 chance began safely off the 10m mark and settled in eighth position for champion reinsman Gary Hall Jnr, who made a significant decision to vacate the one-out and three-back position 1000m after the start. The gelding then raced in the breeze for a lap while the $2.70 favourite Donegal Art Chokin set the pace.

Forgotten Highway ($5) was eighth with two laps to travel before Michael Grantham urged him forward, three wide, 1350m from home to move into the breeze. Forgotten Highway dashed to the front 120m from the post and was overhauled in the final stride by Rebel With A Grin, with 40m backmarker Bettor Party finishing powerfully, out five wide, to be third. Bettor Party galloped at the start and settled down 80m from the early leader. He was still last 350m from home.

The win gave Hall his fourth success in the Marathon Handicap, after winning with Im Themightyquinn (2010), Code Red (2012) and Runrunjimmydunn (2018).