Having made the decision to return to South Australia in August, Sairyn Fawke has celebrated by winning the biggest race in Tennant Creek.
Making his first trip to the small Northern Territory town – a five-hour drive north of Alice Springs – Fawke booted Starouz home in the AU$25,000 Tennant Creek Cup (1600m) on Saturday.
It was the third win in the race for Darwin-based trainer Angela Forster, formerly of Port Lincoln, who won the Tennant Creek Racing Club’s feature at Hagan Park with Lotion in 2018 and 2019.
Lotion, a 10-year-old gelding these days, backed up for his fourth Cup – but the 2020 Alice Springs Cup winner and 2019 Darwin Cup runner-up finished well adrift in fourth place after holding an early lead.
After finding his feet in Darwin before an impressive win against open company over 1400m on Alice Springs Cup Day on May 1, Starouz was the one to beat.
Travelling beautifully approaching the home turn, the six-year-old gelding loomed on the outside and hit the front once straightening to seal victory comfortably by three lengths.
Phil Cole’s Military Zone (Wayne Davis) produced a respectable finish to grab second, while Will Savage’s Masaru Warrior (Casey Hunter) was a distant third after making a move mid-race.
“It was good, I’d never been to Tennant Creek before,” Fawke said.
“It was also good to get the win for Angela Forster.
“He was obviously the class horse in the field, especially after the way he won at Alice Springs.”
Having ridden in the NT in the past, Fawke enjoyed the trip – an experience he described as “fun”.
Based in Brisbane, the 31-year-old flew to Alice Springs before making the excursion to Tennant Creek up the Stuart Highway – just two weeks after riding on Alice Springs Cup Day.
“The club put a good barbecue on the night before the races – the prawns they had were amazing,” he said.
“Overall, the club put on a good meeting and there was actually a good turn out.
“It’s always good to have a country meeting where the community can support it.”
Fawke said he wasn’t all that confident about winning the Cup due to the condition of the track.
Not wishing to be critical, he believes the TCRC had too much sand on the track.
Having had five rides on the six-race program, Fawke compared certain areas of the track to like running on a beach due to a lack of traction.
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“It was good that the Cup was the last race because I sussed out the races all day and pretty much navigated the best part of the track,” he said.
“By the end of the race I got the feel of the track and the horse was too good for them.
“By the end of the day the inside was pretty much on the heavy side.
“I had a plan to just stick to the outside on the fresher part of the track.”
After four and a half years riding in South Australia, Fawke headed home to Brisbane last year to pursue business interests that never turned to fruition.
He returned to the saddle in Queensland before riding in Alice Springs for the first time in three years.
Hindsight brings you back to earth in a hurry and once returning to Brisbane, Fawke plans to return to the NT by May 25 to ride in Darwin and Alice Springs before resuming his association with Murray Bridge trainer John Hickmott in South Australia.
“I’ve kind of finished with Queensland at the moment where I’m actually serving a 10 day suspension,” Fawke said.
“At the moment I’m doing a bit of freelance, travelling, seeing the country side and I’m going to go back up to Darwin to enjoy the Carnival, the sun and some fishing.
“Right now it’s “have saddle will travel” type of thing.
“I’m probably doing a bit better now than what I was doing in Queensland.”
He did ride five winners on the last two days of the Alice Springs Cup Carnival.
But when it comes to the future Fawke has a clear plan.
“I will probably stick to riding in Darwin and Alice Springs until the Darwin Cup,” he said.
“There are some horses in Darwin that I really want to follow through with leading up to Carnival time.
“Hopefully, I can try and get on the better horses for the big race days.
“My main goal is to be back in South Australia in August as I told John Hickmott.
“I don’t want to be away from riding too long in Adelaide, so I want to get my feet in the door and start for the new season.”
Typical of Fawke, he still found a way to turn a negative into a positive.
“I had a few business ventures that went a bit south, but in hindsight I should just stick to my riding instead of trying to do fishing,” he joked.
Meanwhile, it’s rare for a horse to win on debut in the NT, but former Queensland and South Australian galloper Salbris managed the feat at Tennant Creek with success in the Barkly Plumbing 0-54 Handicap (1100m).
Trained by Will Savage in Alice Springs, Casey Hunter had the four-year-old mare sitting behind the leaders White Kaps and Policy before she made her winning move in the home straight.
Terry Gillett’s Policy (Stan Tsaikos), who was inside Salbris finished second, while Greg Connor’s White Kaps (Jessie Philpot), who never left the rails was third.