Connie Greig has them gossiping after snagging Tomingley Picnic Cup

Leandro Ribeiro and the Connie Greig-trained Gossip won Saturday’s Tomingley Picnic Cup. Photo: Racing Photography.

Connie Greig set tongues wagging at Tomingley Picnic Race Club on Saturday as the well-named Gossip made it back-to-back victories in the Tomingley Picnic Cup. 

Ridden by Leandro Ribeiro, the seven-year-old started a $2.90 favourite and found the front, and in the unusual position, she led all the way, defeating stablemate Merdeka (Wayne Wheatley, $7) by 1.08 of a length while in third was the Dean Mirfin-trained Our Blue Moon (Ricky Blewitt, $3.20).

“She led, and she’s never led in her life, and she normally jumps slow,” Greig said. 

“Leo was looking left and looking right, and he didn’t want to lead, and I didn’t want him to lead, but they were going that slow, and he had to lead, and coming to the top of the straight, he was still looking over his shoulder, but he was able to hold on and win.”

Despite her charge starting favourite in the 1500m, $9000 feature event, Greig was never overly confident going into the race. 

“I didn’t think she’d win it again,” Greig said. 

“When we spelled her to go to the (Picnic Champion Series) final, her first-up run was good, but she didn’t come back as well as we wanted, and we turned her out, and I wasn’t sure if she’d come back this time.

“This is her third run back (this preparation), and it was good to see her win, and hopefully, it means she is back.”

A regular on the picnic circuit, Gossip won a Class Two at Condobolin last year before a second in the Tottenham Picnic Cup, leading to back-to-back victories in the Ardlethan and Tomingley Picnic Cups. 

She was among the early favourites to win the 2022 Picnic Champion Series final. Yet, a less-than-stellar preparation leading into the $50,000 final saw her finish seventh behind stablemate, Hemsted.

Greig will continue to target the 2023 Picnic Champion Series with the Written Tycoon mare, but she is happy to play it by ear.

“Last year, she had a stop-start prep going to the final, and I don’t think she appreciated that or the wet tracks, as she prefers concrete, and she never really returned to her best for the final,” Greig said.

“I thought she could win it last year before she went for a spell, and she was the one we all thought was our best chance.

“We’ll set her for it again this year, and we’ll just see how she goes at Bourke and go from there.”

While Tomingley is in her ‘back yard’, being just a short drive from Greig’s Dubbo base, Gossip will look to defend her Bourke Cup crown on Sunday, with Greig expected to start four runners at the famous Easter Sunday program, which is more than four hours’ drive from Dubbo.

“She’ll go to Bourke, and the mile is her go, and while there are a few mile races, she’ll go in them,” Greig said. 

“There is only the cup and sprint there that suits us, and it looks like we’ll take two up for the cup and two for the sprint.”

Lucky racegoer enjoys calcutta success with Gossip 

How’s this for luck? Racing fan Lee Potter won back-to-back Tomingley Picnic Cup calcuttas on Saturday, and both times she won because she bought Gossip. 

“It’s quite funny. She (Potter) bought her (Gossip) in the calcutta last year, and she obviously won, and she came in and got a photo with us, and I’ve since run into her,” Greig laughed. 

“She keeps in touch, and I didn’t get to see her before the calcutta, but she bought her again and won again.

“It’s worked out nice because she will have the horse when she retires.”

Ribeiro boots four home at Tomingley

It was the Leandro Ribeiro show at Tomingley on Saturday, with the Brazilian amateur jockey booting home four winners. 

On top of his Tomingley Cup win on Gossip, Ribeiro won the 800m Maiden Plate on the Rodney Robb-trained Centre Circle ($1.70), the 1150m Maiden Plate on the Clint-Lundholm-trained Sizzling Millie ($3), and the 1500m Class B Handicap on the Clint Lundholm-trained The Cave ($1.90). 

Ricky Blewitt kept up his good recent run, winning the 1150m Class Three Trophy Handicap on Kimmy Lee ($2.80), and Wayne Wheatley rode for the first time since August of last year, winning aboard the Geoff O’Brien-trained Tandem ($4.60) in the 800m Class Two. 

For race results, click here.