IN CONTROL: Jake Bayliss rode Tom Cowan-trained Catch Me Latar to a two-length victory in the Winning Edge Presentations Benchmark 66 Handicap at Grafton yesterday.
IN CONTROL: Jake Bayliss rode Tom Cowan-trained Catch Me Latar to a two-length victory in the Winning Edge Presentations Benchmark 66 Handicap at Grafton yesterday. Bill North

Trainer supports call for increase in staying races

RACING: Experience across the ditch proved beneficial for Ipswich jockey Jake Bayliss who rode Catch Me Latar to victory in a rare sight at Grafton yesterday.

In one of just two races on the Clarence River Jockey Club calendar to be run over 3120m, the $2.20 favourite displayed true staying power to finish two lengths clear of Privately Epic ($2.70, Matthew Bennett) and Rage Against ($6.50, Matthew Paget).

The anomaly in Australian racing is that its most prestigious race, the Melbourne Cup, is over a distance rarely contested on the domestic scene, with the majority of races and therefore prizemoney targeted at sprinters.

It's a rarity for a jockey - especially in country areas like the Northern Rivers - to race over two miles. So a recent stint in New Zealand, where genuine staying races are not as uncommon, no doubt paid dividends for the 25-year-old hoop.

"Jake cut his teeth a bit in New Zealand,” Gold Coast-based winning trainer Tom Cowan said. "When he finished his apprenticeship in Melbourne he went to New Zealand. There's a lot of staying races in New Zealand and I think that sort of mastered his skill of being able to ride stayers.”

Hometown jockey Paget put Rage Against to the front early and led throughout until Bayliss raced home in the straight.

Catch Me Latar won his previous start at Grafton on September 23 over 2385m, and the nine-year-old had no trouble repeating the dose in his first attempt beyond 2450m. The Winning Edge Presentations Benchmark 66 Handicap victory was the gelding's eighth from 54 career starts.

"He's pretty soundly bred so we didn't have any drama he'd get the trip,” Cowan said. "He relaxes, does things right.

"He won a couple of races in Adelaide before he came to me. They thought he was at the end of his tether, because he was leased out and they didn't want to renew the lease.

"When he first got off the float I thought, 'geez, he won't be here long'. He was pretty skinny and ordinary looking, but to his credit he just got better and better.

"I've had him maybe two-and-a-half years and I've won five races with him now.”

A Benchmark 58 Handicap on Maclean Cup Day is the only other race held over the same 3120m journey across the CRJC's 25 meetings each year.

Cowan was supportive of introducing more staying events to the racing calendar.

"NSW racing might want to start trying to program some more of these races which gives older horses and horses that can't sprint a bit of an opportunity,” he said.

"Australasian horses are renowned for being stars and now they're buying them all from England.

"I don't understand the mentality. People aren't patient. All the money's injected into two and three-year-old races over short trips and miles.”

"I just think they need to start looking after their stars again because not everyone wants sprinters.”