Thoroughbred racing returned to the Bunbury Turf Club on Saturday for the launch of the 2017/18 season.
The season kicked-off with a stand-alone Saturday meeting, enticing some of the state’s best horses, trainers and jockeys to visit for the chance to earn metropolitan prize money.
The highlight of the day was the $100,000 Tabtouch Bunbury three-year-old Classic.
The race contained many first-rate chances, with My Demi flying out of gate seven to settle as the early leader with jockey Matthieu Autier aboard.
Cognac parked outside My Demi for jockey Craig Staples and the two ensured the feature was run at a good clip.
Inevitably the challenges came in the straight with Epic Grey finding the front with 200 metre to go. The promising type looked for a brief moment like he was home.
Cue Joseph Azzopardi aboard Ocean Jewel ($5.40).
The pair had relaxed back in the field and flashed down the outside in the club’s colours to score by three-quarters of a length for trainer Simon Miller.
Earlier in the day, apprentice hoop Andrew Castle took out the first, urging Distant Trilogy ($7.10) home by a long head over Finance. Hillbert and Infernal Star dead-heated for third.
The favourites in race two, Danehill’s Daughter ($3.30) and Sonnen ($4.20) went to war late, leaving the rest of the field in their wake.
At the post jockey Fred Kersley had Danehill’s Daughter stretching her neck to score a narrow win.
Champion jockey William Pike notched his first win of the day in race three with Action ($2.70) booting clear to win by two lengths.
Kersley then scored a double in race four, urging First Affair ($9) to a short-head win over Trap For Fools and Kia Ora Star.
After getting a lovely spot in the race early, Vital Dancer ($5.50) had just enough pace to win race five for experienced jockey Peter Hall ahead of Cruachan and Young Gina, who caught the eye flying home late.
A stunning ride for Capel jockey Kate Witten saw Miki Two Toes ($16) overcome being the top weight in race six to add some value into the quadrella.
The successful eight-year-old gelding was a little lost in the betting but found herself tearing down the home straight to salute a length clear of Tonto, Variation and Final Salute.
The last race of the day saw Pike notch his double with pre-race favourite Royal Star ($2.10) arriving in the nick of time.
Albany runner War Jeune had made every post a winner for Peter Hall but Pike’s mount arrived on the scene just at the right moment to score by a short-neck.
Racing action returns to Bunbury on Sunday, October 22.