By Geoff Newling
Under The Thumb might just be the unluckiest horse trainer Sue Grills has ever trained but the six-year-old gelding could win the Tamworth trainer her first Whiskey Mountain Boys Country Music Cup at Tamworth on Thursday.
The son of Falvelon, who has won four of his 27 starts, has drawn barrier one in the feature race with Grant Buckley to ride the Tamworth-trained gelding.
“He’s the unluckiest horse I’ve ever had,” Sue Grills admitted.
“Don’t know how many times he’s got stuck on the rails in Sydney and couldn’t get out. At Inverell the other day he covered 10 lengths more ground than any other horse.”
Under The Thumb was resuming from a five week freshener in the Inverell Shorts and raced wide throughout to finish six lengths astern of Shorts winner Dylan’s Luck.
“It'd be nice to win a Country Cup,” Grills said.
“He’ll be right in it too, just needs a little bit of luck. He’s only a little horse, strong but small.”
Under The Thumb's unlucky fifth at Inverell on January 1
Therein lies part of his problem.
He’s able to put himself in positions to win but is at the mercy of bigger horses if they box him in.
Under The Thumb has won at Tamworth too and shows his versatility by also having won at varying tracks such as Scone, Coonabarabran and Quirindi.
Sue Grills is also experiencing a good season.
She is currently second on the Hunter and North West Racing Association trainer’s premiership, one win behind Kris Lees.
Her apprentice Wendy Peel is also faring well. Peel (19) is leading the apprentice’s premiership by nine wins from Reece Jones and Louise Day.
Funnily enough Peel will ride top weight, Italian Derby winner Goldstream for Tamworth trainer Cody Morgan.
Grills admits she doesn’t know Goldstream at all and hasn’t seen him on the track.
She hopes Grant Buckley, who has ridden some recent winners for her, can continue his good season too.
Buckley is equal fourth on the HNWRA jockey’s premiership with Ben Looker (16 wins) trailing perennial premiership winner Greg Ryan by 20 wins.
Ryan will ride the Allan Denham-trained Phuket in a sprint race wide open with plenty of chances.
Last start winner De La Hoya, trained by Mark Mason at Tamworth, has also drawn well in barrier three with Matthew McGuren to ride.
Tamworth trainers Zach Hatch (Iwatani) and Craig Martin (Present Sense) also have claims as do visiting trainers Shane Edmonds (Mishani Sleuth) and Rodney Northam (Professor Marx).