By Mike Witherdin
The boys from the highlands of Glen Innes had the bookies looking like stale haggis last Saturday when local legend Paddy Cunningham scooped the pool with a trifecta in the Glen Innes Cup to go with two winners and two place-getters earlier in the day.
Cunningham scored an amazing 36 points on his home track to overtake Peter Sinclair, Sue Grills and Paul Grills in the chase for the cash bonus offered by the Picone bookmaking family for the leading trainer over the northern summer meetings.
Cunningham has now won the last three Cups at Glen Innes to go with his win as a jockey on Casino Joe in 1979.
Last year’s winner, Carry Me Gee Gee almost made it consecutive Cups when narrowly beaten by stablemate Hula Girl with Our Minaan running third.
Hula Girl had been battling for form since winning the prestigious Iris Nielsen Memorial at Ballina almost 12 months to the day but appreciated the home ground advantage to win at Glen Innes.
Carry Me Gee Gee will have the chance to hit the lead in the horse bonus when he travels to Deepwater for the Cup this Saturday with Matt Paget in the saddle. His main threat is Amajill a new addition to Luke Berger’s Inverell stable and top country jockey Ben Looker makes a rare appearance at a non-TAB meeting to ride. Amajill is owned by a large syndicate including a group of “colourful racing identities” associated with the Deepwater Jockey Club and a cup win has been the aim since the horse was purchased.
The Theresa Lennon trained Azzalin is the current leader in the horse bonus after a slashing win in a BM55 at Glen Innes following an earlier win at Moree and a placing at Inverell.
Jodi Worley had a tough day at Glen Innes with a series of unplaced rides on outsiders but she still holds a slender lead over Darren Jones. He won’t be riding at Deepwater as he is booked to ride Rothbury for Sue Grills in the TAB Highway race at Royal Randwick on Saturday.
Rothbury and Jones will carry a lot of local money and sentiment following an unlucky second at Inverell on New Year’s Day. Rothbury was bred by Melbourne and Caulfield Cup winning jockey Scott Seamer and is raced by Scott with friend and former jockey Don Terry who was badly injured in a race fall at Grafton.
Seamer began his career as an apprentice to Ron Gosling at Glen Innes and rode many winners at the small northern tracks before moving to Ballina and establishing himself as a Group One jockey from his northern rivers base.
Rothbury carries the red and yellow colours used by Gosling and worn by Seamer in many of his early wins including the 1994 Glen Innes Cup on Yankee Holiday.
Interestingly the 1994 Glen Innes Cup won by Seamer carried more prizemoney than the 2017 edition and among the beaten jockeys that day was a young Darren Jones riding Akwazoff who went on to win many country Cups and $500,000.