It was a memorable day at Sandown for two apprentices, Alexandra Bryan and Carleen Hefel, who both recorded their first city wins in contrasting styles.
Two other female apprentices, Laura Lafferty on Shotmaker and Alana Kelly on So You Swing, also went close to notching their maiden metropolitan victories but were beaten in photo finishes.
Bryan was successful with a daring front-running ride on $31 outsider Lofty Heights, who took out the Ladbrokes Back Yourself Handicap (2400m) by five lengths.
She transferred to Mick Kent’s stables a month ago from Vincent Nolen at Tatura hoping to get more opportunities.
“A great thrill. It’s something I never expected. I thought I’d spend my career riding around the border so I never really thought I would get a chance in Melbourne,” Bryan said.
Lofty Heights’ trainer Julius Sandhu said he told Bryan to replicate the tactics she used on Sunday when she rode his horse Do You Reckon to win at Cranbourne by four lengths.
“With no weight on his back I told her to just try and get to the lead and rate him up in front and then he’ll give you a kick on the bend’,” Sandhu said.
Hefel’s chances looked forlorn as Don’t Doubt Dory gave away a big start halfway up the straight but he flew home to win the Ladbrokes Cash In Handicap (1400m) in the final stride.
Thirty-year-old Hefel is apprenticed to Don’t Doubt Dory’s trainer Julien Welsh, who is one of the state’s best known horse breakers while also training a small team.
Don’t Doubt Dory was first-up after winning the Stony Creek Cup in March and Welsh said he didn’t think the horse was handling the heavy conditions.
Mid-race, he rated him a place chance at best but Don’t Doubt Dory flew home, making up six lengths in the last 200 metres.
“I’ve only got a small team so I’m not used to having spring horses and haven’t really made any plans,” Welsh said.
Co-trainer Simon Zahra predicted a big future for three-year-old Divine Diosa after she broke her maiden status at Sandown.
Zahra said Divine Diosa was still a work in progress but next year would be “a cracking filly” after she took out the 1400m maiden.
“She might have one more run but we’re keen to put her out for spring and get some good grass into her,” Zahra said.
Divine Diosa was the first leg of a winning double for Jamie Kah who claimed the second race on the Mick Price and Michael Kent Junior-trained Cumberbatch.
That stable made it a double when Proper Rogue won the final race.