Birthday girl celebrates Tumut double

Fiona Sandkuhl (middle) discusses Bethpage’s win with trainer Crag Weeding (left) at Tumut on Saturday.

Fiona Sandkuhl celebrated her 23rd birthday in the best possible fashion at Tumut on Saturday, with the Albury apprentice booting home a race-to-race double. 

Combining with Wangaratta trainer Craig Weeding – who coincidently prepared a winning treble – Sandkuhl helped last start Gundagai winner Red Cut Rock ($2.40) to victory in the 1000m Class One Handicap before winning aboard Bethpage ($1.70) in the 1000m Benchmark 58 Handicap.

“It was a really good day,” Sandkuhl gleamed after winning on Bethpage.

“What a better thing to do on your birthday than go to the races, and especially riding a double, it just capped it all off.”

Sandkuhl didn’t have it all go her own way, and she was made to work for both wins.

On Red Cut Rock, the pair engaged in a good battle with the Andrew Dale-trained Lotus Land (Bradley Vale, $3.30) before winning by 0.4 of a length, while in third and 3.55 lengths off the pace was the Garry Rolfe-trained Gifted Curves (Michael Heagney, $11). 

The five-year-old has really turned the corner with his form, and Sandkuhl was happy to be involved with his recent success. 

“Red Cut Rock ran a really good race last time, and he’s not the easiest horse to ride, but just having him in a rhythm and holding him together helps him hit the line,” Sandkuhl said. 

“He’s got the talent, but he’s a bit awkward and he just needs to put it all together.

“I am really grateful to have the opportunity to ride him and I think he can be a decent horse, but he is going to take a long time to mature.”

In the final race on the program, which turned out to be a three-horse sprint over five furlongs, Sandkuhl showed some nous on Bethpage, holding the inside running before pulling away to win by 0.82 of a length from the Kerry Weir-trained Charming Pat (Josh Richards, $2.20), while in third and 7.38 lengths away was the Russell Green-trained Trumps In (Michael Heagney, $8). 

“With Bethpage, we had the perfect rails run and we made the other two work a bit harder; we all stayed in a line, and I got there the quickest way home,” Sandkuhl said. 

“Having those other two on my outside today, it kept her confidence going and she had the drive to want to be there and want to win, and when those two came up to us, and it made her hit the line nice and strong.”

Fiona Sandkuhl guides the Craig Weeding-trained Bethpage to victory.

Sandkuhl’s Tumut double caps off a good recent run of form, with the youngster winning at Tumut on Boxing Day, before backing that up with a victory at Wangaratta on December 30, a double at Gundagai on New Year’s Day, and a full TAB win at Albury on January 10.

“It’s been really good, and I love riding everywhere and I’m really grateful to have the opportunities I’ve been given,” Sandkuhl said. 

“I’ve been riding a bit of work for Ben Brisbourne and Craig Weeding at Wangaratta, and they are really supporting me and keeping me on horses, and Mitch (Beer) is a great boss, and he gives me plenty of opportunities and things are going really well at the moment.”

Sandkuhl will be back at Tumut when the club hosts their TAB meeting on February 11, and she plans to keep active in the Southern Districts as a busy 2022/23 racing season continues. 

“I will definitely be back at Tumut and hopefully I can get a couple of rides at Tumbarumba,” Sandkuhl said. 

“I am going to Wagga on Tuesday, and I’ve two rides there at the moment.”

Craig Weeding dominated the Tumut meeting on Saturday, with the Victorian trainer landing a treble, with Battle Talent (Teighan Worsnop, $5) winning the 1200m Benchmark 50 Handicap.

For all results click here.