Apprentice Ashleigh Borg wasn’t kidding when she said she “almost had a stack” earlier in the day at Hawkesbury on Sunday.
After miraculously escaping an incident which fortunately didn’t end disastrously, Borg showed she is made of the right stuff by bouncing back three races later to post her first win of the year.
The young rider produced a perfect display to win on her master Garry White’s filly Lady Chalfont ($8.50) in the Buttsworth Industrial Supplies Benchmark 60 Handicap (1300m). Yet she literally climbed back off the canvas to do so.
Borg somehow stayed aboard when stablemate Dunatun ($3.80 second favourite) went within a whisker of crashing when in front near the 1000m in the Hawkesbury Equine Veterinary Centre Provincial & Country Maiden (1300m).
Dunatun blundered badly then slipped, and could easily have brought down other runners.
Thankfully, horse and rider regained their balance and continued on before understandably fading to finish second last behind runaway winner My Empire ($1.80 fav).
The incident resulted in stewards, jockeys and Hawkesbury Race Club officials inspecting the area.
After remedial work was done, the meeting proceeded on a Heavy 10 surface without further drama.
White was full of praise for his apprentice after she had scored on Duporth filly Lady Chalfont, who posted the second success of her seven-start career to date.
“Ashleigh rode a terrific race; I couldn’t be happier,” White said afterwards. “I’ve been a bit protective of her because of her size, but she works hard and deserves her chances.”
Borg won two races for White on Sonata Song in May and July last year at Hawkesbury, and her 4kg claim proved decisive on Lady Chalfont on the heavy surface. Not that the filly’s trainer was concerned about her handling the tough conditions: “I knew she would cope; she won two trials on heavy tracks,” White said.
Borg, relieved to put the earlier incident behind, was thrilled to be back in the winning list.
“I ride Lady Chalfont every day, and she is a delight to deal with,” she said. “I almost had a stack earlier, so it was a good way to redeem myself.”
Fellow Hawkesbury trainer Wade Slinkard pulled the right rein to clinch back-to-back victories with lightly-raced Spinning World filly Our Anniversaire ($3.40) in the J.K. Williams Contracting Benchmark 65 Handicap (1500m). In a bustling three-way finish in the small field, Our Anniversaire edged out Adaboy Ross ($9) and $3 favourite Balius.
Slinkard also accepted with Our Anniversaire for a Kembla Grange race but opted to stay at home where his filly had scored over 1400m on May 30. Apprentice Jean Van Overmeire has been aboard her in both wins.
“I was a bit worried when they gave her a Benchmark 64 rating,” Slinkard said. “Our Anniversaire has won both on the dry and in the wet. I bought her for $5000 at the Scone sales, and she is doing a great job for us. But she has lightened off a little, so perhaps we’ll give her a break for now.”