David Blundell still in the winner’s circle despite cancer battle

Despite battling cancer, David Blundell is still training, with the Gundagai conditioner enjoying a golden run of form. Photo: Racing Photography.

Veteran trainer David Blundell isn’t letting a battle with cancer stop him from doing what he loves. 

The Gundagai conditioner, who is one of the most well-respected trainers in the Southern District and all of NSW, has been receiving treatment for colon cancer.

The associated treatments have certainly knocked him around, but he has continued to ride work, while having his gallopers ready for the races. 

“You get that seasick feeling with treatment,” Blundell said. 

“That stuff; it lurks in your system for a fair while, but having some time off, it’s been good not getting around feeling seasick. 

“I am still riding; I have been riding all the time, but now I haven’t had a treatment for four weeks, I feel good; like I could jog to Wagga.”

Blundell, who also had a ‘speck’ on his liver and lung, is responding to treatment, and he has enjoyed a little break from all the doctor’s visits over the holiday period. 

“The doctor gave me time off over Christmas. I found out when I rang up for my next appointment,” Blundell said. 

“I was going every fortnight, and everything was working well, so they’ve backed off me a bit.

“He still wants to give me further treatments but there is nothing showing at the moment. It’s a bit like playing cat and mouse and staying ahead of it.”

Blundell isn’t the only one with a spring in his step, and with the likes of Shafty and Zabellsareringing greeting the judge first in recent months, the Gundagai stable is absolutely flying.  

“It’s about time,” Blundell laughed when quizzed on his stable’s recent winning form. 

“We had a bit of a poor run there and earlier on they couldn’t handle the soft surfaces with all the rain about, and when it dried out and with the sun starting to shine, they started to race well.”

Promising stayer Shafty put together three wins on the trot late last year.

The Gundagai galloper won his maiden over 1675m at Wagga on November 26 before winning a 2000m Class One at Canberra on December 11. 

The Shaft gelding that is out of Coupolette then made a big step up in class at Wagga on December 23 when winning the 2000m Benchmark 66 Handicap before finishing down the track in town, beaten 7.36 lengths in a 2200m Benchmark 72 Handicap at Warwick Farm on January 4. 

“The plan this time in was to win a TAB Highway over 1800m, but it was bad timing, so we pressed forward with him,” Blundell said. 

“He’s a nice horse and I think he will go on with it. The last time I had him in work, the plan was to get him over ground and he’s proven he can handle the distance. 

“He’s gone for a break after his run in Sydney, and we will give him some time off – only five or six weeks – and I will try and bring him back for the Wagga Cup.” 

Blundell was again in the winner’s circle on January 5, with Zabellsareringing proving too good for his rivals in the $30,000 Country Boosted 1600m Maiden Handicap.

The Zariz gelding that is out of Bells showed off a stunning finishing burst when coming from well off the pace to win the seven-furlong event. 

“I thought he’d get the job done over that distance,” Blundell said. 

“I nearly started him first-up over a mile but I didn’t want to flatten the bugger.

“He will make a nice horse and he should get over 2000m too. I will give him one more start at Wagga and then I might give him a little break but I reckon we will have some fun with him.”

While he didn’t win at Wagga on Tuesday, old stager Thistledo ran a good race when first-up from a 10-week spell in the 1400m Benchmark 74 Handicap, and Blundell believes the rising 11-year-old has a win or two left in him. 

“Old Thistledo thinks he is a four-year-old,” Blundell laughed. 

“He is a high-energy bugger, and tough too, and he worked really well during the week and I think there is a win in him.”

All of Blundell’s recent success has been with Wagga apprentice jockey Molly Bourke, and Blundell has been impressed by the 19-year-old. 

“She is going good, and the bloody horses go good for her,” Blundell said. 

“They all seem to run home for her, and so I’ve stuck with her and she has improved out of sight over the last 12 months.” 

With a big team in work, and some good recent success, it may pay to follow Blundell, who is truly enjoying a well-deserved winning run.