By Geoff Newling
When Rothbury literally body surfed off two or three opponents to win Monday’s $20,000 Bonfire (GB) Class 3 Handicap (1100m) at Grafton, the Tamworth gelding completed a marvellous three-day spell for Sue Grills, which could continue at Quirindi on Friday when the 2017 Akubra Quirindi Cup unfolds.
The Tamworth-based Grills had snared a winning treble on Saturday, winning her first Highway Handicap at Randwick with brilliant front-running mare Fickle Folly whilst grabbing a winning double with Carmel and Blinkin Fast at the Moree Race Club’s Westpac Rescue Helicopter Chopper Cup day out west.
Fast forward two days to Grafton where Grills had returned from Sydney to her Tamworth stable to pick up Rothbury and Silkscape for a four hour float trip to Grafton. While Silkscape led but finished down the track, Rothbury encountered more buffeting than you would think likely for a winner.
Three times he copped checks from inside and out during the final 300m and three times he “surfed” off those bumps to have the temerity to continue his run, stick his neck out and win by a half head. He also overcame a protest to retain his victory.
It was a marvellous ride by Darren Jones who managed to adjust from each check and continue riding the son Rothesay to what was his third win in 17 starts.
“He’s a beautiful horse,” Sue Grills said today. “It was a very good ride from Jonesie too. Rothbury had run well at Walcha, it’s not a track that suits him. The good thing at Grafton was Scott (Seamer) was there to watch him win. Scott and Don Terry own him. But Rothbury is also still learning to gallop. He’s going to go out for five weeks and have a freshener.”
Last weekend started brilliantly for Grills when Carmel won the first race at Moree on Saturday. The front-running filly gave her first time owners – Troy Carroll, Mitch Power, Cameron Smith and Marty Macdonald – a great thrill.
“She’s our first horse,” Troy Carroll said. “The boys were pretty happy. I couldn’t go and they were all away but she won well.”
The four Tamworth men have a share in the filly with John Grills, Sue’s husband, and are looking forward to a next start at either Gunnedah or Armidale. Fickle Folly then, like Carmel, led all the way to win the Highway Handicap at Randwick before Blinkin Fast capped off a great day with a Chopper Cup day double at Moree.
Rothbury’s win at Grafton, whilst courageous, also highlighted the fact the four-year-old has a bright future/ And Sue Grills would love nothing better than to win a Quirindi RSL Lightning with Hammoon Boy on Friday.
“It’s a very tough race,” she said. "He deserves his chance though, been a very consistent horse for me. I don’t think I’ve ever won a Lightning either.”
It would not only cap off a good week for Sue but also owners Belinda and Paul Frampton: “They have had a big week already,” Sue said of the Merriwa owners. “Their jumper also won in England last week too, so they are having a great time.”
That run started with Zestful, a five-year-old mare they own and have trained by Kris Lees, winning the Triscay Stakes at Randwick just over a week ago when Winx won first up at the postponed metro meeting. Then Red Knot won at Scone last Friday for the Framptons and Scone trainer Rod Northam.
Fickle Folly made it a trifecta of wins that could also be enhanced by Hammoon Boy in Friday’s $30,000 Quirindi RSL Lightning (1100m). Hammoon Boy was one of 21 nominations for Friday’s main support race to the $40,000 Akubra Quirindi Cup (1600m).
The Quirindi Cup Carnival starts Thursday night at Quirindi RSL Club for a Cup Calcutta hosted by long time racecaller Kim Stewart.