Girls grab limelight while Byrne elite hoop for fifth time
THE Ipswich race meeting last Friday was the final for the season and the premiership races went down to the wire.
After 12 months of racing, the trainers, jockeys and apprentice jockey premierships were amazingly not decided until the final meeting. Trainers and jockeys titles were not decided until the thrilling final race of the year.
On the trainer's front, Gold Coast-based Gillian Heinrich, on 15 wins, came into the last race day at Ipswich with a slender lead of one win over Brisbane's Robert Heathcote. However, Heathcote had more seconds than Heinrich so a win on the day to Heathcote would have meant he would pick up his third Ipswich trainers premiership.
The Heinrich stable had two runners early but neither Vintage Choice nor Accepting could fill a place, let alone collect a win to assure a historic moment for the stable.
There was then a wait to see if Heathcote could collect the win he needed to move top from either Another Choisyn or Kingtantes in the final two races.
Another Choisyn was beaten into second placing by Pippi Longsocks so it was then down to the last race of the season with Heathcote's Kingtantes looking to give him another Ipswich premiership with a win.
Kingtantes got a fair way back in the race and was wide on the turn but finished strongly to just go down by a half head behind I'm No Ruby.
This meant that Heinrich became the first female trainer to win the Ipswich premiership - a historic moment as there has been racing in Ipswich since 1859 at the Grange, and 1897 at the current Bundamba facility.
Byrne's last-gasp win
AS he did in 2011, Jim Byrne won the last race of the season to claim the Ipswich jockeys premiership for a fifth time.
Coming into the final race on Friday, Byrne was aboard I'm No Ruby and was joint leader with Tim Bell and Michael Cahill on 23 season wins.
In the previous two races, wins to Cahill on the David Murphy trained Stellarcraft, and to Bell on the Barry Lockwood trained Pippi Longsocks moved each of those two riders equal with Byrne who started the day one clear on 23 wins.
In the last race, Bell was on the Tony Sears-trained County Gold although he never really looked like winning.
Even if he did not win he had more second placings than either of the other two so would have collected the trophy if neither of the mounts of Byrne or Cahill saluted.
Rio Bravo hit the front for Cahill with just 100 metres to go and was in with a big chance of adding to his maiden premiership win of last year before Byrne brought I'm No Ruby with a perfectly-timed run to pick up a narrow last-gasp win.
Cut Up joy for Cassandra
THE race for the apprentice jockey premiership was no less dramatic than the main two premiership tussles after Jannette Johnson started the final day on nine season wins with two rides to come.
Hot on her heels on eight season wins were Tegan Harrison, who had five rides for the day, Cassandra Schmidt (three rides), and Luke Tarrant (two rides).
Harrison, winner of the last two apprentice premierships at Ipswich, was well ahead on second placings if it went to a countback. However, she could not manage a placing in her five rides for the day.
Tarrant also could not manage a placing from his two rides.
It was then down to Schmidt to challenge the long-time season-leading apprentice Johnson.
In her two early rides, Johnson could only manage a second place aboard Do Some Good, before Schmidt won on Danny Bougoure's Cut Up in the fourth race of the day and moved level on nine wins at the top.
There were no more placings from the apprentice riders so it was back to a countback and Cassandra had seven second placings for the year, one ahead of Johnson's tally, meaning the name of Cassandra Schmidt will go up on the honour board in the Eyeliner Lounge.
That ensured a third consecutive female winner of the Ipswich apprentice jockey premiership.