FLYING FINCH TAKES THE RIGHT TURN TO SCONE
The couple own Riverbank Farm at Benalla where they offer a variety of services, including standing seven modestly price stallions designed to attract the bred-to-race market.
Despite the demands of the farm, Russell finds time to train up to a dozen of their homebreds and one of them, Flying Finch, is by resident stallion Redente, and has shown above average ability.
And while four-year old Flying Finch had shown some class in his four starts before, Russell and Caroline decided to head to a 1000m maiden race on Scone Cup Day last Friday.
From those four starts, the gelding had been placed three times, but he had a worrying problem during his races.
Caroline said Russell thought they would not see the best of Flying Finch in Victoria because he hangs so badly.
“His last two starts prior to Scone he had run second and horses that he met there were pretty smart,” she said.
“And he lost a lot in the races because he would hang and Russell said he needed to go the New South Wales direction and we wanted to also test whether he could also handle the travel.
“He could have gone to Albury and just pinched a maiden there but we wanted to see just how he’d handle the travel just in case we had to take him to Sydney, potentially.”
Caroline said with a few friends in the Hunter Valley, they decided to also enjoy a few days in Scone Cup time and make a little bit of a road trip out of it.
It all worked out to plan with Flying Finch winning by a short neck over the 1000m journey after starting the $3.10 favourite and picking up a cheque of $20,300.
“The horse handled it really well and we were just delighted that he handled the trip and managed to pull off the win,’’ she said.
While Caroline said that Flying Finch had received treatment for a few issues he’d had, it doesn’t explain why he hangs which she says some horses just do.
“It’s the same as people, some are left and right handed and some horses are left and right handed,” she said.
“And he just prefers to go the NSW way rather than the Victorian way.
“He did a little bit wrong in the race but Regan (jockey Regan Bayliss) rode him out really well to get him to the win and he’ll certainly improve from the run as well.”
Now with his maiden out of the way, Flying Finch will have a week off to get over the trip and a decision will be made on his next assignment which more than likely be over the border.
“And he’ll just work through the grades,” Caroline said.
“Albury is as lot closer to us but the prizemoney at Scone was double for a maiden at Albury and we learnt a lot about the horse in doing the trip and plus we had just had a nice road trip away for a few days and caught up with some good friends up there.”
Caroline said Redente, which stands at $3300, continues to produce winners, including two last Friday – Flying Finch and Brenlyn’s Trooper which has had three wins, plus a second at Moonee Valley, from his four starts.
Mornington trainer David Brideoake also had a Redente winner on Saturday when Bob’s Relish won at Warracknabeal over 1000m.
“He just keeps churning out the winners, old Redente and we just love him,’’ Caroline said.
“He is great value for money and he just keeps producing winners and he has got a lot of support up here in this area and he is just a nice bread and butter horse.”
Caroline said they target the owner-breeder with their stallions and try to offer value for money and their horses are priced for what they are.
She said that while Redente is yet to have a stakes winner, his strike rate of winners to runners is very good.
“We consider that are stallions are priced to what they’re worth,” Caroline said.
“He just keeps producing those winners but I think it might have been a different story for him if he’d had a book of 200 top shelf mares in his first season, I don’t think he’d been standing at Riverbank now.
“He has done it the hard way, Redente. He could have had more potential if he’d had bigger books of high quality mares.”
Redente, an unraced son of Redoute’s Choice, was earmarked as a stallion when he was just a yearling when Caroline was working as an equine vet on Bob Scarborough’s nearby Wood Nook Farm.
He was never going to race because of a cyst above his hoof. Caroline and Russell were asked if they wanted him to breed a couple from as his dam was Group 1 winning mare Stella Cadente (Centaine x Temple Fire).
“So we actually got him as a yearling and put him in the paddock for a year or two and put him to stud when he was three and he has just kind of slowly built a bit of momentum,” he said.
“As I said, he has done it the hard way, the tough way but he has got a lot of loyal support up in this area from our clients.”
Caroline and Russell have a band or around 20 broodmares, but unfortunately Flying Finch’s dam, Lim’s Falcon, died in 2018.
The pair basically only race and train the horses they have bred.
“It’s sort of a side branch of the farm,” Caroline said.
“It’s really Russell’s hobby training the horses, so we really only have on own homebred horses in training at any time.”
And Riverbank truly is a family operation with Russell’s 22-year-old twin daughters, Olivia and Sarah, riding track work for their father.
As well as Redente, Riverbank Farm stand another six stallions – Anacheeva, Boulder City, Prince of Caviar, Skilled, Wayed Zain and Von Costa De Hero.