Rio Rogue wins Walkaway Cup for trainer Murray Sharp on near-perfect New Year’s Day at Geraldton Turf Club

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Reuben CarderGeraldton Guardian
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Troy Turner on Rio Rogue reaches the line ahead of Nicole Hopwood on Interstate in the Walkaway Cup.
Camera IconTroy Turner on Rio Rogue reaches the line ahead of Nicole Hopwood on Interstate in the Walkaway Cup. Credit: Justine Rowe/Around the Traps/Around the Traps

One of the oldest meets on the Mid West race calendar ran on Saturday in front of a sizeable crowd in near-perfect weather.

Five-year-old Blackfriars gelding Rio Rogue crossed the line first in the 2100m Mount Augustus Tourist Park Walkaway Cup at the Geraldton Turf Club, with top jockey Troy Turner aboard.

Trainer Murray Sharp said Rio Rogue was on course for the Geraldton Cup and had earned a spell with the win.

“He’s a good horse,” Sharp said.

“His aim this year was the Walkaway Cup and then the Geraldton Cup.

“He goes to paddock now for a couple of weeks to have a holiday.

“He’s a day-to-day proposition.

“He came to me as a rogue, it’s in his name. We’ve got him going well. There are a bunch of good guys in him, and they’re happy.”

He said Rio Rogue would likely race again in February.

Rio Rogue won the feature ahead of five-year-old Interstate, trained by Serpentine-based Ben Owen and piloted by jockey Nicole Hopwood.

Geraldton trainer Rhona McPilomey continued a highly successful season by taking third place.

It was the fifth consecutive placing for MacPhilomey’s horse A Steamy Affair. Lisa Staples was aboard the six-year-old, continuing a run of good form at Geraldton for the Swedish-born, WA-based jockey.

Turf club manager David Wrensted said he was pleased with the attendance after the meet was rescheduled at short notice due to high temperatures.

“The crowd was bigger than we thought,” Wrensted said.

“It was a good day. We were able to keep the tradition of the Walkaway Cup going.”

He said the cup had been running for about 130 years.

The meet ran six days later than scheduled.

Trainers from the Mid West and Gascoyne won each race despite competition from city-based horses.

Among the winners was trainer Julia Martin, supported by her crew of Brooke Martin and 16-year-old Ava Vanderplaats.

Three-year-old Corn Cob took a second consecutive win for Martin in race four over 1200m.

Geraldton-based trainer Gary Sorensen had a win in race eight, the final race on the day, with Machali.

It was the five-year-old’s third win since March 2021.

Sorensen said he had “no big plans” for the mare but was happy with the result.

“I’ll take it as it comes,” Sorensen said.

“I’d like to step her up to a mile.

“It was what I was hoping she could do and what she was telling me during the week.”

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