Cooma Cup ‘afterthought’ lands Mark Gee a drought-breaking victory

Goodradigbee, picture here winning at Orange last year, won the Cooma Cup on Saturday for Goulburn trainer Mark Gee. Photo: Racing Photography.

Mark Gee made his first ever trip to Cooma on Saturday and left a very happy man after winning the $14,000 Cooma Cup with Goodradigbee.

With two-kilogram claiming apprentice Madison Waters in the saddle, the six-year-old proved too strong over the 1600m journey, flashing late in the race to win by 0.05 of a length in a thrilling photo finish from Royal Popcorn for Clare Mansell and Jess Del Frari, while Gwennybegg for Georgie Boucher and Quade Krogh finished a further 1.43 lengths away in third. 

The Cooma Cup victory was Gee’s first win as a trainer in almost 14 months. 

“I haven’t won one for a while,” Gee laughed.

“We have been focusing on breakers lately, but it was nice to get a winner, plus it was my first and only runner at Cooma.”

The Delago Deluxe gelding entered the race in good form, following minor placings at Goulburn and Cowra, and Gee was surprised to see Goodradigbee start as one of the outsiders at $9.

“I couldn’t believe it. He was unlucky not to win at Cowra when he was favourite and got a long way back and still ran third,” Gee said. 

“I thought he was a good chance if he handled the track, which he did in the end.”

Gee had never met Waters prior to the pair’s Cooma Cup win, and he praised the apprentice for giving his gelding a good ride.

“It was her first ride for me, I didn’t know her at all,” Gee laughed. 

“I know she is apprentice to Luke and Robert Price. It was an afterthought to go to the Cup really. We threw a nomination in after they got extended and when it looked a nice race on paper, we thought we would go and she rode the horse well and it was a good result.”

Gee’s wife races a majority of the gelding, which is why connections are happy to target these country cup races.

“My wife leases about 70% off the owners, and his breeder Judy Merriman; well, they race the horse together,” Gee said. 

“We got him for a bit of fun and that’s the reason we target these sorts of meetings.”

The Goulburn trainer thoroughly enjoyed his first trip to the Snowy Mountains racecourse, praising both the Cooma track and committee.

“It was a great little meeting. It was a nice and relaxed atmosphere, they had good facilities for the horses, the track was good and there was plenty of people having a good time,” Gee said.

“If anything, I was disappointed that I was the only one there, because I had to drive the truck back and couldn’t mingle with the committee, but it was a good turnout.”

It was another bumper meeting at the Cooma Monaro Race Club on Saturday.

In the second feature race of the day, Goulburn trainer Geoffrey Crothers and jockey Ruby Haylock combined to win the 1400m Sundowners Maiden Cup with Wegee Lou.

In the first of the day, It’samatterforyou won the 1000m Maiden Plate for local trainer Stephen Johnson and jockey Campbell Rawiller. 

Another Cooma trainer won the second event, with Kevin Byrne teaming up with Tumbarumba product Molly Bourke to win the 1000m Benchmark 45 Handicap with Force Awakens. 

Canberra trainer Doug Gorrel then won the 1400m Benchmark 45 Handicap, with Jess Del Frari guiding Keep Me Posted to victory. 

In the final race of the day, another Goulburn trainer in Sarah Murray-Leslie had success when preparing Denim Street to win the 1200m Benchmark 50 Handicap with Julia Presits in the saddle.