Sister Havana, ridden by Grafton Cup-winning jockey Paul Hammersley, wins the Sir James Kirby Handicap on Grafton Cup Day.
Sister Havana, ridden by Grafton Cup-winning jockey Paul Hammersley, wins the Sir James Kirby Handicap on Grafton Cup Day. Adam Hourigan

Jockey in winning double

NOT to be outdone by dual Ramornie-winning trainer Peter Snowden, top Brisbane handler Liam Birchley returned to Grafton this year to claim his second consecutive Sir James Kirby Handicap (1000m) with Sister Havana.

The trainer claimed this race last year with this year's Ramornie runner-up Falco Star, and made it back-to-back victories in the sprint feature yesterday.

Birchley has enjoyed huge success over the carnival and claimed the Kirby as part of a winning double on Cup day, also combining with winning jockey Paul Hammersley to win the third event with Devils Melody.

Hammersley enjoyed his biggest day on the Clarence Valley track, claiming his first career win in Grafton aboard Devils Melody early in the day, before landing a massive feature double, including the Grafton Cup on Warrior Within and Sir James Kirby Handicap on Sister Havana.

“It's a big feat to win two Kirbys in a row here in Grafton, it's a tough, tough race to win and a lot of good horses turn up here every year,” Birchley said.

“We'll never miss a Grafton Carnival. We love it here and have had a lot of luck at this track.”

Hammersley has been riding at the Grafton Carnival for a number of years without success, but when it rains, it pours, and the floodgates opened for the accomplished Brisbane rider yesterday.

Less than an hour after claiming the Grafton Cup on Warrior Within in an upset result, Hammersley was back in the winner's stall on a second feature-winner in Sister Havana.

“The way the track is playing today, we got a lovely run throughout and at the top of the straight I knew we had the chasers beaten,'' the jockey said.

“I was a bit worried about catching the leader, but, to my horse's credit, she dug deep and chased him down hard.”


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