Carleen Hefel lands first Melbourne metro win

Three days in racing can be a long time as trainer John Sadler can readily attest.

When Sadler first saw the fields, published on Wednesday, for the IVE > Print Handicap (1300m) at Sandown on Saturday, he considered Altai Ranger a strong winning chance.

With apprentice Carleen Hefel on board and courtesy of her 3kg claim, Altai Ranger came into Saturday’s race with just 51kg.

Hefel made the most of Altai Ranger’s light impost and made the opposition carry their weight, setting a solid tempo.

It paid a winning dividend as Altai Ranger, the $3.10 equal Ladbrokes favourite, held-off co-favourite Cordilla by a neck with Mr Tipla ($9.50) a short-head away third.

Altai Ranger is raced by Singapore liver surgeon Dr Tan Kai Chah who has had a long a successful association with Sadler.

“When I first saw the acceptances, I thought he was a chance,” Sadler said.

“The claim for Carlene helped and he has raced well here, but mind you, I’m still surprised he won after seeing Cordilla moving to the outside.

“He really fought on well and I’m sure the 51 (kilos) had a lot to do with that.

“He’s been racing really well and he belongs to one of our very favourite clients, Dr Tan.

“I’m just pretty excited to train a winner for him in town.”

Sadler said he will not be aiming to high with Altai Ranger, hoping to find another similar race in coming weeks.

“I’m very pleased for Carlene Hefel,” Sadler said.

“She’s apprenticed to Julian Welsh, who is our horsebreaker, and she’s done a fantastic job educating a lot of our young horses, so to have her here to ride her first Saturday winner in Melbourne is a big thrill.”

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