By Geoff Newling
Gunnedah Jockey Club moves toward the second meeting of its Winter Carnival of Cups when it stages its Gunnedah Gold Cup meeting on Sunday, but spare a thought for one legendary trainer who carried all before him to win many of the races at the same Carnival back in the mid-50s.
Last Thursday the GJC staged its Bective Station Somerton Cup meeting, a nine-race TAB program that also featured the Arthur Gore and Keith Swan Memorials. Bill “Bot” Thompson attended the Somerton Cup meeting, helping his son, Scott, prepare and race Valatia in the Somerton Cup.
Left: Scott Thompson with Valatia
It sparked mighty memories for Bot, who rode there as an apprentice way back in 1955 when he and champion and legendary trainer Arthur Gore carried all before them. Bot rode 13 winners in 14 races at that three-meeting winter carnival.
“I was apprenticed to Arthur Gore,” he recalled at last Thursday’s Somerton Cup meeting after the Sutton Family Arthur Gore Memorial had been run and won by Coonamble gelding, A Magic Zariz. “He was a great trainer. One year he won the South Grafton Cup, Ramornie and Grafton Cup.”
However, 1955 and a golden three-meeting run at Gunnedah remain strong in his memory. The first of three Gunnedah winter meeting was held June 25 and young Bot won five of the six races.
“Ran third in the other one,” he said with that renowned twinkle in his eye. “The next meeting I rode all six, rode the program, then the next meeting in July I rode the first two.” That’s 13 from 14 - an amazing feat.
Bot rode for a little longer and moved from Gunnedah, where Arthur Gore was based at that stage, to Quirindi where he bought a block “near the Cemetery” where he built stables and has been ever since. His riding success transferred easily and impressively to training where he also became one of the region’s best and most respected and feared trainers over many years.
These days the 81-year-old is happy to strap Scott’s horses at the various meetings around the HNWRA and will be there on Sunday hoping for a “Valatial Cup” success.
“Dad helps out a lot here,” son Scott said at their Fitzroy street stable complex. “Used to ride work too until a few years ago when he had a bad fall.”
Scott is hoping Valatia can improve on his third in the Somerton Cup when he carried topweight (61kg) and ran home strongly for third behind Cup winner Cervinia and the Paul Perry-trained Torquay.
“He’s good, pulled up good after the Somerton Cup,” Scott said. “Haven’t won a Gunnedah Cup. Dad has. Won at least one with Hot N Hazy probably won a few more too.” That was not counting his efforts as an apprentice more than 60 years ago.
Scott is also in form of late after winning the Noel Leckie Country Cup at Scone on Scone Cup day with Exitozo, who is out spelling and leaving it to Valatia to win another big Cup for the Quirindi stable.
SCOTT THOMPSON CHASES CUP VICTORY Scott Thompson is chasing a “Valatial Cup” win when Sunday’s $30,000 Hopefuel Gunnedah Cup (1600m) rolls around. The jockey-sized Quirindi trainer believes Valatia is a “competitive” chance to win Thompson his first Gunnedah Cup.
Thompson is in form too, having won the Pryde’s EasiFeed Noel Leckie Country Cup at Scone earlier this month. Valatia is backing up from a good third in last Thursday’s Somerton Cup to Cervinia and Torquay, beaten just over two lengths.
“He pulled up good,” Scott Thompson said of his six-year-old gelding son of Valixir. “He’s been going real well.”
He followed a third in a benchmark 65 over 1500m at Muswellbrook with a good second to Sayed at Newcastle over 1850m on April 29 before last week’s third at Gunnedah. He carried 61kg in that Somerton Cup and found the line well to be beaten just over two lengths.
“I might have backed off him a little too much before that race,” he said of the Somerton Cup. “But he will benefit from that run and also a drop in weight. He’ll be competitive.”
Scott has seven horses in work at Quirindi and has a lot of time for Valatia who has won four of his 27 starts and more than $87,000 in prizemoney.
“He’s a lovely old bloke to train,” he said. “Should have won one this preparation. Just haven’t been able to find the right race for him.” He’s hoping Sunday’s Cup is it.