Smith’s team ready to repay stable clients’ loyalty at HQ

Chew on this: Chewychop wins at Newcastle for Glyn Schofield, who sticks with the gelding in the fifth race at Randwick on Saturday. Photo: Brockwell PerksNewcastle trainer Darren Smith this week brings a trio of horses to Sydney that could go to the next level for deserving owners.
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The horses of long-time stable supporter Bruce Mackenzie would be well known to punters as they all carry Oakfield in their name, while the quirkily named Chewychop carries the memory of late Port Macquarie trainer Noel Hazlewood, as he is raced on by his son and daughter under the endorsement of their father, who said: “This is the one for us.”

The three-year-old posted a couple of wins to start his career before running third in the Scone Guineas and third at Rosehill last time. “I’m very happy with him,” Smith said. “This will be it [the last start] for him this time in.

“It would be good if he could go out a winner because, if we can, his rating would make it easier to get into better races next prep.”

The Oakfield horses have been the mainstay for Smith’s stable for more than a decade. The mostly home-breds have won more than 100 races in that time, but there hasn’t been a “really good one”.

Oakfield Commands and Oakfield Comet are in at Randwick, and the former is on track for a start in next month’s Ramornie Handicap at Grafton if he can win the Winter Dash on Saturday.

“This could be that horse, that goes to the next level,” Smith said. “Bruce has never had a black-type horse, and it would be great if we could get one. It is race by race with him at the moment but the Ramornie is there for him, should things go right on Saturday.”

Oakfield Commands has scored two dynamic wins over the Randwick 1200 metres this preparation. Should the five-year-old continue on a mission to Grafton, he will be attempting to put right a wrong in the Ramornie for owner and trainer.

“We took Oakfield Duke there about 10 years ago for it, and I thought he was a real good chance,” Smith said. “But the track was like concrete, and he blew out his legs. The Ramornie is one of races you just want to win because of its history. Everyone knows the race, and it is probably the best country sprint in the country and the hardest to win.”

Oakfield Comet, which races later in the afternoon, does not carry the high expectations of her stablemate and half-brother.

“She has just come back from a spell and is second-up,” Smith said. “She went OK first-up and will go better on Saturday.”

While it is a family affair among the Oakfield team, Chewychop carries memories with him every time he runs. The son of Bradbury’s Luck was a $14,000 buy at the Scone yearling sales but the driving force behind the bidding never saw the grey race.

“I was hesitant when the bidding kept getting higher but dad said, ‘Keep going, love, this is the one for us,'” co-owner Cheryl Oliver said before the gelding’s third at Scone.

”When we got the horse out of his box to inspect him before he went into the ring [at the sales] , dad [Noel Hazlewood] was that sick he had to sit down and just watch the youngster walk.

”He was impressed, and that is why we went for Chewychop. That was in May, and dad died in October that year. He never got to see his beloved horse race.

”He just knew the horse would be good, and Chewychop is living up to dad’s belief in him. It has been very emotional watching the horse race and win. I know dad was riding along with him.”

The original release of this article first appeared on the website of Shanghai Night Net.