Dolphina goes back-to-back as Murrumbidgee Cup looms

Heni Ede with last-start Wagga winner Dolphina (left).
The Tim Donnelly-trained mare has won back-to-back races and will now contest the Murrumbidgee Cup in two Sunday’s time.

The Sandy Tait and Jill Nivison-owned Dolphina has made it two wins on the trot after winning the 1800m Benchmark 66 Handicap at Wagga on Sunday. 

Trained by Tim Donnelly and ridden by Kayla Nisbet, the four-year-old sat last in the nine-furlong event, but she came home hard and fast, winning easily in the end, beating last-start Gundagai winner Blessed Award (Mathew Cahill) for trainer Mick Travers in second, while the Donna Scott-trained Sharlie (Jason Lyon) finished third. 

The Wagga galloper started $7 on the NSW TAB fixed odds board, and punters could have shopped around for as much as $12 when the markets opened, which Donnelly believed was over the odds. 

“I think she was about $12 when you could first have a bet,” Donnelly said. 

“I was surprised, because she beat that Wise Dragon last time and it was shorter than her (in the market), but that was their opinion.”

Dolphina entered the race following a good win at Albury over 1600m and she has now won four times and placed an additional three times in 14 starts, earning connections $64,000 in prizemoney. 

The Casino Prince mare has been especially good this preparation, starting four times for a sixth at Wagga over 1400m when first-up, before running third at Corowa over 1600m, which preceded her two strong wins at Albury and Wagga.

“She has definitely improved,” Donnelly said. 

“We only gave her a four-week spell because we wanted to have her back running in these races.

“She is a trier, and that’s important. She didn’t show us anything at all early on, but she tries, and she has had more racing and she keeps getting better.

“Plus, she has a bit of turn of foot, which over a bit of ground can put her in a good spot, and that helps a lot in these types of races.”

Dolphina will contest the $45,000 Murrumbidgee Cup on April 24, with that 1800m race acting a prelude to the rich $200,000 Wagga Gold Cup, which will be run and won next month on May 6.

“There is a race for her on (Wagga) Town Plate Day (May 5), and it will be over 2000m and is the same class as today, but first she will go to the Wagga Cup prelude and she should run a good race,” Donnelly said. 

When asked if Dolphina could make the step up to Country Cup racing, Donnelly was keeping a lid on expectations. 

“It depends on the class of race. She is a big track horse and if they held a race like the Gundagai Cup at a track like Wagga, she would do well,” Donnelly said.

“She might be up to winning a midweek city race if she keeps improving but we will just see how she goes.”

Donnelly had a good day at Wagga on Sunday, landing a winning double with Miss Kirribilli taking out the last race, which was a 1000m Maiden Plate for fillies and mares. 

The three-year-old was having her first start and won well when supported into $2.25 favourite in the jump and run sprint.

“She did trial very well and on that trial, she was always going to run well,” Donnelly said.

“There is still a lot of improvement in her too.”

For full Wagga results, readers can click here.