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Echuca Racing Club a happy hunting ground for locals

Echuca Racing Club a happy hunting ground for district owners Simon Maddox, Rhys Archard and Craig Sutton.

LUKE MCMANUS July 9, 2014 3:36am

Emphatic cheers echoed around the Echuca Racing Club’s betting ring following Count Encosta’s impressive return to the track on Monday.

District owners Simon Maddox, Rhys Archard and Craig Sutton willed the seven-year-old around the heavy eight track during the $15,000 race six handicap, with the gelding exceeding all expectations to trump Kinselmac Manner and Steely Gray by half a length.

Jockey Brad Rawiller timed the run beautifully, emerging from the pack with 200m to go before storming home in the horse’s first race back from a four-month spell.

Count Encosta’s win, the horses’ fourth from 56 starts, handed trainer Darren Weir a 232nd triumph for the 2013-14 season.

‘‘It was surprising, we didn’t know how we would go,’’ Archard said.

‘‘Even Darren (Weir) didn’t know what to expect.

‘‘We (Rhys and father trainer Daryl) had Leveraction (fifth) running in the same race and when he struggled, I started cheering Count Encosta home when it came through the middle.’’

For the local owners, it was a significant victory given Count Encosta’s long road to Echuca racecourse on Monday.

A former resident at the Archards’ Echuca stable, Count Encosta was shipped off to Weir less than a month ago, the horse’s fifth trainer since 2009.

The Archards took on Count Encosta during last year’s spring but Rhys remained a stakeholder when the gelding was moved to Weir’s beach-side stable in Warnambool.

‘‘It was doing nothing up here so we thought we’d send him down to Warnambool near the beach and sand dunes ... and it agreed with him,’’ he said.

The performance marked Count Encosta’s first win since 2010 when, trained by Randwick’s John Thompson for the once powerful Patinack Farm Stables, the then three-year-old enjoyed a run of three consecutive wins, among them featuring the $175,000 group two Tulloch Stakes.

The horse was Archard’s star performer on the day, with promising but unlucky displays coming from Blue Jangles (fourth in race two) and Vivacious Miss (fifth in race seven).

Other district trainers, including Gwenda Johnston and Michael Cornish and Donna Gaskin unable to feature among the placings.

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