Doug Gorrel targets Tumut ahead of Tumbarumba Cup quest

Doug Gorrel (right) will team up with Anaelle Gangotena at Tumut on Saturday. Photo: Racing Photography

Wagga trainer Doug Gorrel is no stranger to success at Tumut, and he’ll look to add to his good record on Saturday when racing Exaggerate and Hispirit. 

Hispirit looks well-placed in the 1000m Class One Handicap, and Gorrel is hoping to send the four-year-old to the paddock on a winning note. 

“She’s quick and she is every chance, but she needs the paddock, and this will be her last run before she goes for a spell,” Gorrel said. 

“She is good enough, but it all depends on where she draws. You need to draw well at Tumut but if there isn’t that many in it, it might not matter, and we will see how she goes.” 

Hispirit won her maiden at Albury on December 3, and she has subsequently run third to Pretty Panda at Corowa on December 19 before finishing fifth to the promising galloper Supido Beauty at Wagga on January 5.

Gorrel believes the Hinchinbrook mare has the ability to go on and win some nice races further down the track. 

“She’s done a good job and she will physically be a better horse next prep. She doesn’t need too long out, but she needs time to get over a good prep and I’m looking forward to bringing her back later in the year.”

Gorrel also has the ever-consistent Exaggerate contesting the 1200m Benchmark 58 Handicap.

The nine-year-old has been up since late last year and following a good win in the 1000m Benchmark 50 Handicap at Narrandera on December 17, the old stager has finished second at Corowa, third at Tumut, second at Gundagai, and most recently flashed late to finish second at Queanbeyan on Saturday. 

“He is absolutely close to another win,” Gorrel said. 

“We just need to work out whether we go to Tumut or be greedy and go to the full TAB meeting at Queanbeyan on Monday.

“Small fish are sweet, and he is well-suited at either joint. If he draws better at Tumut, he will go there, but if he draws better at Queanbeyan, we may go there instead. 

“He is a tough old fella, and he will run well wherever he goes.”

Former picnic jockey turned professional hoop, Anaelle Gangotena will ride both horses and Gorrel said the youngster was getting better with every ride. 

“Nelly is going really well. She is a good rider, and she’s got a natural affinity with horses,” Gorrel said.

“She rates them well and she just needs to get used to the bigger fields, but she will give them both a really good chance.”

The warmer weather has definitely set in, and it’s forecast to be 36 degrees on Saturday, but Gorrel wasn’t worried too worried. 

“They are going alright at the moment. It’s a lot better than what we are used to at this time of year and my two went to Albury (on Tuesday) and they were pretty good,” Gorrel said. 

“As long as there is a bit of breeze and it’s under 40, we are alright. It’s when it gets over 40 and there is no breeze is when you have a problem. 

“If anything, the horses handle it better than we do, and they will be alright at Tumut.” 

It’s a busy time of year for Gorrel and other Southern Districts trainers, with Tumut’s meeting on Saturday leading into Wagga meetings on January 17 and January 26 before racing heads to Tumbarumba on January 28. 

Tumbarumba haven’t raced since 2020, with their previous two meetings washed out, meaning Gorrel is technically the reigning Tumbarumba Cup king, having prepared Southern Gamble for victory in the time-honoured Tumbarumba Cup. 

The stable has been trying to set the locally-owned Would Be King for the feature in recent years, and connections will be hoping second times a charm later this month. 

“Would Be King is our Tumbarumba Cup horse,” Gorrel said. 

“He is just ticking along nicely. I’ll probably give him a jump-out next week and go into the cup fresh.”

The eight-year-old has been a good earner for connections, with the Irish-bred and raced Lethal Force gelding sent to Australia before spending time with Chris Waller in Sydney and Tim Donnelly in Wagga.

Would be King eventually found a home in Gorrel’s stable, finishing second in the 2022 Tumut Mile before winning the Grenfell and Cootamundra Picnic Cups. 

He won at Queanbeyan back in November before finishing third to Nieces and Nephews in the Hair of the Dog Cup at Gundagai late last year, and despite travelling the Victorian way of going at Tumbarumba, Gorrel believes he will be primed for a first-up assault in the $18,000 feature.

“I do think he will go well fresh, and he’s as tough as old boots, and you have to be tough to win at Tumbarumba,” Gorrel said. 

“Going the other way won’t bother him. We can get them ready that way and sometimes I think they enjoy it and benefit from it because it’s something different.” 

Gorrel, who always targets the Tumbarumba program, will set a decent team for the once-a-year meeting. 

“We are hoping to take a fair few, but the program doesn’t totally suit me, but I will find a few and take them, that’s for sure.”