IN THE CLEAR: Glyn Schofield rides Kris Lees’ Le Romain to victory in the opening race at Randwick on Saturday. Picture: bradleyphotos NEWCASTLE Knightstypes past and presentwere celebrating at Broadmeadowon Saturdayafter four-year-old mare Swaane fought back courageously to win the 1150-metre Benchmark 60 Handicap.
Swaane ($3.80), with Robert Thompson aboard, and Our Transfer ($3 favourite), with 4kg-claiming apprentice Kristina Rayner in the saddle, engaged in a titanic battle down the straight.
It was a nervous wait for connections of the two horses as the judges pondered the photo for some time before declaring Swaane the winner by a nose.
Swaane, named after a famous Al Jolson hit from the 1940s, was trained by David Vandyke at Warwick Farmand Ron Quinton at Randwick.The mare was advertised for sale on the internet in mid-2015, and James Lovegrove bought and syndicated her.
Knights five-eighth Jarrod Mullen and former hooker Tony Townsend were part of Lovegrove’s group.
Lovegrove, a Knightsfan, donated a five per cent share in Swaane to the Knights Old Boys to auction at their grand final lunch in October.
The Knights’ original team manager, John Laut, an Old Boys administrator, put a syndicate together at the lunchand the five per cent share was knocked down to them for $800.Laut then secured another five per cent for his syndicate for $800.
Included in the Old Boys syndicate are former players Robbie Tew and Greg Hayward and the Knights’ original travelling chef, John Lehman.
Laut, Lehman and Mullen were in the saddling enclosure to welcome Swaane as she returned to scale after her win.Laut, 68, said he hadlived in the Hunter all of his life, but Saturday was the first time he hadbeen to Broadmeadow racecourse.
Newcastle trainer Jason Deamer was delighted with Swaane, which has had two wins and two placings in four starts for him.
‘‘It was great for the boys, and they are having a ball,” he said.
Randwick trainer James Cummings had told punters toexpect a big improvement from Cisco Kid in the opening event, a 2200mclass 1 and maiden handicap.
He was spot on, asCisco Kid ($3), coming off two lasts in shorter races,saw off a challenge from Great Orator ($7) to win by half a length.
Cisco Kid was allowed to settle back in the field by Blake Spriggs, but down the back of the coursethe jockey set the favourite alight.
Newcastle trainer Kris Lees won on Saturday withthree-year-old Naranja at Newcastle andLe Romain and Felines at Randwick.
Lees had not trained a winner on the inner Beaumont track since it opened in late October.