Apprentice jockey Josh Richards was smiling ear-to-ear after securing his second straight Gundagai Cup on Sunday.
The popular Southern District jockey, who rode Class Clown to victory for Chris Heywood in 2019, was on the despised outsider Monkery for local trainer, Dave Blundell.
Richards rode his charge home from the back of the field to score a remarkable victory over Zoffany’s Lad and Gentleman Max in the $32,000 event.
“It’s a great feeling to win it again,” Richards said.
“You always want to win these races and it’s terrific to win it two years row and even better to get a big win for Darky (Dave Blundell).”
Richards said that he owed a lot to Blundell, who has always given the talented hoop a chance in the saddle.
“He has given me some good opportunities and I was lucky enough to ride Monkery for two of his wins last preparation,” Richards said.
“It was a great training effort today (Sunday) and I’m glad I was on board for the ride.”
The 25-year-old explained that he was a little surprised by Monkery’s efforts, suggesting his charge just kept finding more in the tank.
“He is a horse that always gets back and then you have to start working on him from the 600 out, but today (Sunday) he just wanted to go,” Richards said.
“He got a great run through when we followed Gentleman Max, and a few more splits opened up after that and from the 600m, he just took off from underneath me.
Richards explained how the Myboycharlie gelding was full of running and pinpointed when he thought he might have the race won and done.
“He surprised me bit, the way he was letting down, I just kept giving him somewhere to go and he just kept going and was unstoppable,” he said.
“As we got to the 400m I thought we might have a chance, and by the time we were at the 300m, I knew he was travelling well enough to win.”
The winning jockey put improved result down to the soft six surface, suggesting the Gundagai runner was a different horse in the wet.
“As soon as there is a bit of give in the track, he just turns it on,” Richards said.
“He is a different horse when it’s soft or heavy.”
Mudlarks reign at Gundy
The Gundagai-Adelong Race Club had an eerie feeling about its cup meeting on Sunday, with no crowd in attendance.
The meeting, which would normally attract a boisterous crowd of racing fans, was held behind closed doors due to Racing NSW banning all crowds in response to the federal government banning non-essential gatherings.
Still, the racing went on and punters were tested, with a soft six surface playing into the hooves of runners with exposed wet form.
In the first event on the card, Tumbarumba runner My Solaki was very game, holding off a fast-finishing Certain Shaft and Easy Mover for a 0.29 of a length victory in the 1180m Maiden Handicap.
Trained by George Dimitropoulos and ridden by Heni Ede, the three-year-old Supreme Class gelding was camped on the leaders back and found the lead to hold on and reward punters, paying $3.40 on the tote.
The second race was the 1000m Maiden Handicap and Houlio’s Dream for Kym Davison and Blaike McDougall got the job done by 1.21 lengths over Supreme Kitty and Alise.
It was a dogged win for the $2.80 race favourite, who was forced to sit outside of the early leader, before the three-year-old Husson gelding exploded away for a comfortable victory.
Rond De Jambe proved it wasn’t a leader’s track in the Class One/Maiden Plate over 1800m, sitting midfield before storming home five and six wide to win by 0.73 of a length over Tezoff and Goodradigbee.
Starting a short $2.30 favourite, the Emma and Lucy Longmire runner was ridden a treat by apprentice hoop Tyler Schiller, who showed a wealth of maturity to take the run when the chance was given.
The 1400m Maiden plate was the fourth on the card and this result really tested the judges, with Congenial Miss holding on by the slimmest of margins, boasting a marginal 0.01 of a length win over Sumdeel and High Advice.
The Rob Potter runner, who was ridden by the in-form Ellen Hennessy, came from midfield before finding the lead with half a furlong remaining in the race.
The $9.50 shot then dug in to hold off the rest of the field that were storming home late in proceedings.
Former Gundagai trainer Todd Smart earned a win at his old stomping ground, when the heavily backed Our Volantis won the 1400m Benchmark 58 event.
Ridden by Ellen Hennessy, who picked up a race-to-race double, the Canberra runner was dominant in winning, sitting outside of the early leader before breaking away to win by 1.21 lengths to No Emotion and Tumbarumba galloper Lennox Road.
Interestingly, the five-year-old Redwood mare, who was having her second run for Smart, was backed in from double digits before crossing the line at $6 a win.
In the sixth event, Biscara defied a late betting drift to win the 1000m Class Two event by 0.95 of a length over Indicators On and the fast-finishing Onthetake.
The classy Matthew Dale runner, who was ridden by Nick Heywood, sat off the leaders back before finding space and rocketing away for a good win.
The three-year-old Rubick filly, who raced in listed company before being moved to Dale’s stables, looks to be a very handy type and was way over the odds on Sunday, paying $5 a win.
The seventh event was the $32,000 Gundagai Cup and Monkery surprised everyone to win at $126, flying past race-favourite Zoffany’s Lad and fellow mudlark Gentleman Max for a 1.28 lengths win.
The five-year-old Myboycharlie gelding, which is trained by Gundagai trainer Dave Blundell and ridden by Josh Richards, has proven to grow a leg in the wet and never disappoints on a rain-affected track.
In the final event on the card, Mick Miladinovic prepared Trumbo to win the 1180m Benchmark 66 by 1.24 lengths over Bezazzalled and Major Time.
Aaron Sweeney had the six-year-old California Dane gelding on the pace, before the pair pulled away for a good win, rewarding followers, paying $12 a win on the NSW tote.