Local horse trainer Gavin Groth is chasing what seems to be an elusive victory after claiming his fourth and fifth, second-place finish of the year in Gunnedah last Thursday afternoon.
Gunnedah Jockey Club hosted its first meeting of 2022 at the Riverside Racecourse and the seven scheduled races put on a show for the locals in attendance.
It was an impressive meeting all round and for Groth, there was some disappointment.
“It’s very frustrating, yesterday was our fifth consecutive meeting and we’ve had eight second-place finishes,” Groth said.
“The horses are running well, but we’re just not getting the win at the moment.”
Vista Girl, coming off a second-place finish in Tamworth on New Year’s Day, came into Thursday’s meeting as Groth’s best shot at victory.
As it headed down the straight, it was between Sea Boss, Nannysky and Troska as to which horse would make it to the line first.
Unfortunately for Groth, Vista Girl could only manage second and despite opening as the favourite at $2.70, Sea Boss stole the win, leaving the local trainer still searching for his first win of 2022.
Groth’s next best chance was Epic Decision, ridden by Madeline Owen and in a cruel turn of events, the eight-year-old gelding was beaten by a nose.
Kensington Kid was the race winner and chased down Epic Decision at the death, leaving officials to use their photo finish technology to declare a winner.
Speaking to the Gunnedah Times, Owen had mixed feelings at the start of the race.
“I thought Epic Decision had an excellent race, he was at a higher price and his form wasn’t too great coming into it,’ Owen said.
“Gavin was pretty confident, I was happy to trust his judgement and he was right in the end.”
Despite not picking up a victory at the Riverside Racecourse, one can view Groth’s meeting as a success.
The local trainer earned more than $9000 for a day’s work as Vista Girl and Epic Decision totalled $4400 each. Groth featured seven horses, with Bacari and Bring The Joy placing fifth in their respective races.
Moonlight Princess, Bard’s Voice and Charge Extra finished at the back of the pack in their races, with Groth hoping for future stronger performances.
Owen leads Military Bay to a record breaking victory
Madeline Owen, who featured in Epic Decision’s second-place finish in race five, rode Military Bay to victory in the final race of the meeting.
Although it was priced as a strong $2.50 favourite, Military Bay has often been regarded as a formidable horse for picnic meetings, however, Thursday’s run showed exactly why it belongs at the Country level.
Over the 1300 metre distance, it saw Military Bay break away from the field to breeze home to victory and in doing so, it smashed the track record at the Riverside Racecourse.
The new time set by Owen and Military Bay is 1:15:06. Owen spoke about the win and what the record meant.
“I’ve had a bit of an affiliation with the horse and Mark Schmetzer, the trainer,” Owen said.
“I was pretty confident going into the race that we were going to win, but I didn’t have any expectations to break any records.
“It was just a bonus being able to accomplish that.”
The 20-year-old jockey, who has been racing for just more than a year, has high hopes for her future with the provincial ranks in her sights.
Having broken another record a week earlier in Taree, it has shown Owen’s strength as a jockey.