Garden keeps growing winners

TOP Bundaberg trainer Darryl Gardiner continued his domination at Thabeban Park since racing resumed there in July with another double at the Summer Cup meeting.

He did not have a runner in the feature event but he took out the Class 2 with Morongla and also claimed yet another quinella in the Class 4 with Craiglea Fighter and Startova.

Former New South Wales galloper Morongla had failed at his first start for Gardiner at the Bundaberg Boxing Day meeting but he deserved the win after being runner-up in two of his subsequent three outings, all in Rockhampton.

Ridden by senior jockey Ray Hancock, he won narrowly but well in a quality field in a race in which less than a length covered the first six horses, and although it was only his third win in 49 starts, he could now go on to better things.

For Craiglea Fighter, it was his third victory from his past four races after also winning at Thangool at his previous run and also here on Boxing Day, but Gardiner was not getting carried away.

But a striking four-year-old chestnut gelding by former champion sprinter Falvelon which is owned by his breeders Stan Johnston and family, of Craiglea Stud fame, he is now on the verge of fulfilling the potential he has always shown.

Gardiner was also pleased with Startova, also another beautifully bred recent acquisition from NSW, by Anabaa out of a Marscay mare, which was having just his fifth race start and his first for him.

"First and second is what I wanted and they were the right order but I would have also taken it the other way around," Gardiner said.

"Fighter - he's just racing in good form and he's a pretty nice and handy local horse who can hold his own in the midweek meetings and in the bush.

"But he'll go back to Rocky for a Class 6 and we'll have a better idea of how he is really going then because he'll have a couple of better horses to beat up there.

"Startova will go to Rocky in a couple of weeks for a Class 1 because he's only a Class 1 horse.

"I don't have a stable of champions - but they are just all good, tough horses."

The next Bundaberg meeting will be the Catholic Schools Race Day on March 10 with five events on the program.

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