He’s driven more winners there in recent times than anyone else so it was only fitting that Blake Jones enjoyed the final victory at Wagga Showground on Saturday night.
Jones claimed the final ever race at Wagga Showground as Trunkey Tash ($2.60) raced away to victory in the Farewell To The Showgrounds C1-C2 Pace (1755m).
It was a historic moment as the sport bid farewell to it’s Wagga home for the past 65 years and prepared for it’s move to a brand new multi-million dollar facility at Cartwrights Hill.
A good-sized crowd turned out and it was Jones who raised his whip in salute as he grabbed his own piece of history by winning the last ever race at the venue.
“It was pretty good. No one else will be able to do it and it’s something I can say I’ve done and tell people when I get a bit older and can’t drive anymore,” Jones said.
“I wasn’t intending to (salute) but I could hear the crowd cheering and I thought I better give them one and keep the show going.
“I got caught up in the moment a bit but it was a good night and they had a pretty good crowd there for it.”
The Chris Hughes-trained Trunkey Tash won by six metres, from My Highlights ($7.50) and extreme outsider, Miss Modern Ruby ($151.00).
Jones let the mare rip along the back straight and she unleashed a dazzling turn of foot to storm to the front, where she then kept going.
“I had to go a little bit earlier than I wanted to,” Jones said.
“I wanted to sit there as long as I could but that’s the best she’s ever gone for me.”
It was the second leg of a winning double for Jones, who was successful earlier on the night on Man Hands ($2.00) for Ellen Bartley.
The night also proved a special one for Coolamon reinswoman Amanda Dean, who enjoyed her first winner.
Dean steered Tophat ($12.00) to victory in the TAB C0 Pace (2165m).
The 26-year-old gained her licence 12 months ago and enjoyed her first win after more than 60 drives.
“It was very exciting,” Dean said.
“I had to listen to the racecaller to find out if I’d actually won the race. Then I listened a second time just to make sure it was real.”
Dean has been working with Ganmain trainer Ray Turner, who trains Tophat, for the past two years. She gave the five-year-old every chance as he burst through for his maiden victory at start number 71.
“I couldn’t have done it without Ray,” she said.
Victorian trainer Peter Romero took out the Christmas Cup with Red River Glacier ($2.50) – the second leg of a double for driver Peter McRae who also won the first with The Pix ($2.00).
“I have a lot of good memories of this track winning a Wagga Cup, but I can’t wait to get out and start racing at the new track,” Romero said.
Wagga Harness Racing Club chief executive Graeme White said it was important to send off the Showground in style.
“It was a memorable night with a very big crowd providing a fitting farewell to racing at the Showgrounds,” White said.
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