Border no barrier as Weeding wins Griffith Cup with Claptone

Fiona Sandkuhl holds the 2021 Griffith Cup after Clapstone’s victory on Saturday. Photo: Craig Weeding Racing.

Wangaratta trainer Craig Weeding couldn’t be on course at Griffith on Saturday with Covid-19 travel restrictions stopping the Victorian stable from venturing outside of the VIC/NSW border bubble. 

That didn’t stop Weeding winning the 2021 Griffith Cup though, with Claptone hitting the line strongly to take out the $17,000 feature race, holding off Bezazzalled and Son of Spartacus for second and third respectively. 

Weeding thanked Albury trainer Mitch Beer for the helping hand, highlighting just what needed to happen for Claptone to race and win across the border. 

“I have to give a shout out to the Mitch Beer stable; we couldn’t have taken the horse if it wasn’t for their help,” Weeding said. 

“We are able to operate within the border bubble, so we were able to drop the horse to Mitch’s and they took the horse to the races for us.

“Mitch has helped us quite a lot and he took the horse to Narrandera when he won there too, and we are hoping we can repay the favour to Mitch with some of the races coming up in our area.”

Four-kilogram claiming apprentice Fiona Sandkuhl – the Mitch Beer stable’s rising star – rode the four-year-old to victory, registering her third career win and first feature race success at only her 24th career ride.

“She rode him really well. It was only her third winner, and she rode him sensibly and patiently,” Weeding said. 

“They sat of the leader nicely and left a bit in the tank for the straight. Plus, he is not a very big horse; he would be 15.1 (hands) at the most, and I think the claim really helped.”

This year was the first time Weeding had made a play for the Griffith Cup, and he said it was always enjoyable competing for country cups.

“I think he was our first runner and winner in the Griffith Cup,” Weeding said. 

“It’s always good to be racing in these races; the owners enjoy getting the cup and it is a day a lot of people will always remember.”

Claptone has been a very good pick up for the stable, with $7,000 purchase previously racing with Kevin Corstens in Victoria and Matthew Dunn in Northern NSW, registering just one win from 17 starts during his time with both stables. 

Under the care of Weeding, the outreach gelding has found his best form, winning three times from four starts, registering victories at Albury, Narrandera and now Griffith.

“We are very happy with him, and you will probably see something when you look at the form and notice that his two previous wins were on very heavy tracks,” Weeding said. 

“We thought that would be the key to his form, but it was nice to see him win on what was a soft yesterday and now we will look ahead, possibly at the Lilly Pilly Cup at Leeton.”

The Victorian looks set to be contesting more NSW country cups this season, with Weeding hinting at a Leeton trip next time out. 

“Those Open Handicap and country cups over the spring should suit him,” Weeding said.

“He is an easy horse to have around the stables, he is sound and easy to train.”