Gambit may be eight years old, but he seems to be getting better with age as an ultra-impressive 6.5 length winner in the Benchmark 55 Handicap at the Waves Sub Clubs Beach Party Race Day at Thabeban Park on Saturday.
Ridden by Caloundra apprentice Louise Dillon for the first time since she fell from him in a local race, suffering dual spinal fractures as a result, he took his record to three wins, a second and a third from five other starts on the track.
His affable Bundaberg owner/trainer Laura Cronan, who moved to Bundaberg seven years ago and purchased him “cheaply” from Country Victoria after he had been unplaced at his first four starts, described it as a “good win by the old boy”.
Gambit was successful at Thangool on debut for her on 23rd July 2016, and he has now had 52 starts in her colours for 10 wins, five seconds and eight thirds, amassing $85,175 in prizemoney, with his other wins coming at Rockhampton (2), Nanango (2), Kumbia and Kilcoy.
He missed over 15 months racing from February 2017-May 2018 after suffering an injury.
“But it was worth the effort to nurse him back to fitness because he has won 10 races now,” Laura said.
Laura rates him now about on par with “good little mare Claragh” as the best horses she has trained.
“Claragh won seven races for me, including a lot at TAB meets, but Gambit is pretty good too,” she said.
His performance on Saturday stamped him as a potential ideal candidate for the Bundaberg Cup in July, but Laura said circumstances would probably prevent her from targeting that event.
“He will have one more start at Nanango in a couple of weeks but will then have a good holiday, probably about four months because there will be no stables left at track with some of the old ones being demolished, but when the new ones are built, he will come in again then – he deserves it anyway,” she said.
“I had him in the (Bundy) Cup last year, but he hurt his leg and I had to scratch him, but I don’t think he’ll be fit enough again for it this year.
“I can keep a few up and comers in work, and I have a couple coming up at the next (Bundaberg) race meeting, both with chances.”
Laura’s days are long with usual 3am starts, as apart from having five horses in work at the moment, during the day, she is also passionate in her profession as a Disability Support Worker.
Laura was the only local to win on the program, with multiple trainers’ premiership winner Darryl Gardiner missing out at a Bundaberg meeting for the first time in memory, despite having three representatives in the Benchmark 55 Handicap, with Brighton Toff his best, finishing second.
He was also runner-up with local idol Ten Taubada’s, which was resuming from a five-month spell in the 1090m Open Handicap, was a $1.25 favourite in the field of three, but was over-run over the closing stages by Gossiaux, ridden by Natalie Morton for Wondai trainer Kym Afford.
It was the second time in a row that Ten Taubada’s had been relegated to second by a Kym Afford galloper after he had also been edged out by Elusive Element in the Bundaberg Cup at his previous outing on 5th September.
Senior jockey Robert Faehr claimed a double, with Agent Albert for Sunshine Coast trainers Corey and Kylie Geran in the Class B, and Lucky Machu for Gympie’s Mark Lewis in the Band 0-65 Handicap.
The other event on the afternoon, the Maiden, was won by Scarab, ridden by apprentice Rebecca Wilson for Ipswich owner/trainer George Sitek.
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