Tumut owners Andy and Sue Groves had a day to remember at Murrumbidgee Turf Club on Saturday, with Wondalga and Bouddi both greeting the judge first in the opening two races.
Racing on the Wagga Riverside course, the bigger staying types could have been excused for not handling the tighter track, but instead, the pair dug in for dogged wins in their respective races.
Wondalga, who is prepared by Canberra trainer Mick Miladinivic, had Shaun Guymer in the saddle, and sat midfield, before being peeled four wide and coming home for a tight 0.22 of a length victory over Le May.
“He doesn’t have too many strings to his bow; he is just a plugger, he wears them down, and is a bit of a momentum type horse,” Mr Groves said.
“He needs to get into the clear at the 600m and wear them down, which he did on Saturday.”
The full brother to Bondo, is the last Zariz gelding that is out of the Groves family’s very good producing mare, Bold Shift.
“Wondalga is a big, tall athletic type of horse, he has the look of a 2000m horse, and he is still well proportioned and he is a more attractive type than Bondo dare I say,” Mr Groves said.
“Mick (Miladinovic) has had him working along nicely, it took him 10 starts to find his feet, and a lot like Micalong (Wondalga and Bondo’s full brother), he is learning and going well and we hope he can come out and eventually do the same.
“He is the last Zariz, so it was fitting he was out of Bold Shift and even more fitting he won, just like the rest of them.”
Another Groves runner that has generated a local following is the in-form Bouddi, who has won two of his last three.
The Kerry Weir runner had Blaike McDougall on board in the 1800m heat of the Wagga Stayers Series, and coursed three-wide, before just holding off Pushkar by 0.25 of a length at the finish.
“He shown a bit of grit there and Blaike came back and said it looked pretty ugly taking that risk in going wide, but he said there was no pace on and the horse was happy within himself, “Mr Groves said.
“It was a tight turning track, and he is a big strong horse, and with that said, we knew he had to make the race his own early and that is what Blaike did.”
The Exceed and Excel gelding that is out of Shirley, was a purchase made by the Groves, and the six-year-old is turning out to be a handy stayer in the making.
“He is turning the corner. Kerry is getting him up to the right distances, and he is obviously keen and starting to love the game, which is making a fair difference to it all,” Mr Groves said.
“When we first got him, he didn’t know what this racing caper was all about, and now he knows what this is all about, he has a bit of confidence.”
In what is good news to the Groves family and Weir, every jockey that gets out of the saddle has suggested Bouddi will go further than 2000m.
“Everyone that has ridden the horse has said the same thing, they believe he will go further,” Mr Groves said.
“I like to watch a horse go past the post when they are finished racing and see if they still stride out, and both of those horses (Wondalga and Bouddi) were still enjoying racing 200 to 300 metres past the post, which is a good sign for stayers.”
Bouddi, who has now won three races from 24 career starts, has won all his events in his previous seven outings, winning over 1600m, 1800m and 2000m.
Mr Groves put this slow start down to the big gelding learning his craft and taking his time to settle into Weir’s stables.
“Kerry will attest to this, the horse himself is a different horse from when we first got him,” Mr Groves said.
“He couldn’t settle and would waste away after a run, and he obviously had to get that out of his system, and the change of environment has told eventually.
“In his last spell, he really started to hold his condition and he is more mature now, and we are giving him time to tell us what he likes, and keep him fresh.”
Winners and losers
The Ben Blay trained Double Magnum was beaten 0.31 of a length at Muswellbrook on Friday.
Contesting the 1750m Maiden Handicap, apprentice hoop Dylan Gibbons went to the front and looked to have gotten away with the win, until his four-year-old was edged just on the line.
The former Gundagai trainer will be pleased with the run and a maiden win looks to be on the horizon.
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It was a day of seconds for local owners Sandy Tait and Jill Nivison at Wagga on Saturday, who watched on as the Tim Donnelly trained pair of Torsiton and Pushkar ran game seconds in their events.
Pushkar, who had Kayla Nisbet in the saddle, was hitting the line nicely in his 1800m debut, beaten 0.25 of a length by Bouddi.
Torsiton also had Nisbet in the saddle, and was forced to work a little harder after being caught wide in the 1200m Benchmark 58 for fillies and mares, and finished 3.62 lengths off the eventual winner, Quiano Queen.
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Todd Smart had little luck at Wagga on Saturday, with Underthespotlight finishing fourth for Johnny Kissick in the 1200m Maiden Handicap for colts and geldings.
It was no better reading for All About Me, who was disappointing for Ash Morgan, finishing seventh in the 1200m fillies and mares Benchmark 58 Handicap.
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Kerry Weir’s Maggie D’Oro was disappointing on debut in the 1200m fillies and mares Maiden Handicap, finishing a long last and beaten 8.9 lengths with Megan Creed in the saddle.
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Tumbarumba hoop, Nick Souquet was back in the winner’s circle on Friday, guiding The Skilled Cat to victory in the 1100m Benchmark 64 Handicap at Wodonga.
Riding for David O’Prey, the border-based hoop gave his mount every chance, getting home by 0.2 of a length and rewarding punters who followed, with his runner paying more than $20 a win on the NSW and Victorian TAB totes.
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Aaron Bullock has been busy of late, with seven rides at Taree yesterday, before seven more rides at Armidale today and three rides at Gosford tomorrow.
The local product is on a good thing at Gosford too, jumping aboard the impressive Rejinskey in the 1100m Benchmark 64 Handicap.