By Mike Witherdin
In a week when the headlines have been about the millions to be won at the top end of that part of life’s lottery we call racing, there was a win that barely got a mention but reinforces the fact that a little win can be just as sweet.
Sandwiched between the hype of Melbourne Cup Day and the fashions of Oaks Day, Grafton was the focus of NSW racing and a horse called Just A Dame won a modest Maiden Plate. The win was a feather in the cap of Inverell trainer Todd Payne as it was his first start with the mare who had raced in Perth then travelled to Darren Weir’s Victorian stables in search of a win.
Payne can, like very few trainers, can rightly claim to have achieved something that Darren Weir could not, in making Just A Dame a winner.
The real sweetener in the victory was that it was the first win in the comeback of 30-year-old jockey Daniel Edmonds. Edmonds has battled back to riding after suffering a terrible run of injuries in recent years with the Grafton win being his first since 2013.
Edmonds was battling weight issues living and riding trackwork in Sydney for Gary Moore after moving from Port Macquarie and travelling to the provincials and beyond in search of rides. In the 2014/15 year he only had 14 rides with his last ride in June 2015 aboard recent group winner Classic Uniform at Kembla Grange for Moore before being injured.
A trackwork fall resulted in a badly broken leg and just when a return to riding looked possible he was shoeing a horse that reacted with a two-barrelled kick direct to Edmonds’s head.
The injury was horrific and effect long-lasting.
Aside from the bad scarring, Daniel had to work to regain his mental and physical co-ordination. The head injury set back the leg injury recovery as the co-ordination problems meant the previously broken leg literally had to be dragged into action.
In recent times, Edmonds moved to Inverell and commenced riding trackwork for Payne and other Inverell trainers and had his first race ride back at Armidale at the end of October. Ten rides later he is back in the winner’s circle at Grafton and followed it up with another winner for Brett Dodson at Armidale on Sunday.
Danny is a cousin to current Inverell trainer and former champion apprentice Shane Edmonds but was born in western Sydney and had never sat on a horse until he turned 15, a year later he was apprenticed to Mark Mason at Tamworth and later enjoyed multiple successes in country Cups and Brisbane metro races as a 3kg apprentice on the McBurney family warhorse, Ten To Countdown.
Edmonds is hopeful of having a full book of rides for Inverell’s Diggers Cup meeting on Saturday where the club is rapt in receiving 84 nominations for the non-TAB community day. It may not be the Melbourne Cup and there may not be as many 000’s on the cheque but a couple of wins has one jockey full of confidence and enthusiasm for racing again.