Hodgson makes training return in Walgett Cup

Joe Hodgson, pictured here with jockey Tiffany Jeffries, will have his first runner at the races since 2020 when racing Chesty in the Walgett Cup on Saturday. Photo: Racing Photography.

Coonamble trainer Joe Hodgson hasn’t had a runner at the races since September of 2020 but that will change on Saturday when he sets new addition Chesty for the 2022 Walgett Cup. 

The former Kieren Hazelton-trained galloper raced for the Gilgandra trainer at Gulgong on Sunday, but was soon enough in Hodgson’s care and bound for the Walgett Cup. 

“They were going to get rid of it before he won at Gilgandra (in March),” Hodgson said. 

“They told me I could have it that day but it came out and won and they gave it a few more starts but he rang me and said I could have it. 

“He raced Sunday, so I’ve done nothing with him and put him in for a bit of fun since we were heading there anyways.

“We will just see what happens. If he happens to win Saturday, it’s all Keiren’s doing and not mine,” Hodgson laughed.

Hodgson, who trains on the track at Coonamble, said he was enjoying being back at work after some time out of the game. 

The fulltime welder broke his back during a trackwork accident at Coonamble back in 2017, and since then, he has only had approximately 30 starters during a quiet five-year period. 

“I broke a vertebrate in my back when a horse went straight through the fence,” Hodgson said. 

“(The recovery) has been pretty slow and I haven’t had many starters since then.

“Really, I haven’t had horses; I had one horse and I am over 100kg now but I’ll be riding this one’s trackwork.”

In fact, Hodgson’s last winner was in the 2017 Mendooran Cup when Vision Retract took out the $7000 feature with Anthony Cavallo on board. 

“Yeah, that was a good win. He was 10-year-old and I was going to retire him but I said to Choc (Cavallo) he would win and he did,” Hodgson said.

The Coonamble trainer said he mainly bought Chesty for his father and former jockey, Foxy Hodgson, and that a return to the track would make him happy.

Still, he did think the stable’s new galloper was half a chance of winning Saturday’s Walgett Cup.

“The old man was a jockey, and he’s in him, and a few other fellas wanted to get in too,” Hodgson said. 

“It should be good. Plus, I don’t think it’s an overly strong race and he is coming back from 1800m and we’ll see how he goes.”

Saturday’s Walgett Cup program has attracted 55 acceptors and the $12,000 Walgett Cup over the 1400m journey is the feature race on the day.

There is plenty of fun to be had at Walgett races too, and for more information on the race day, readers can click here and for full fields, readers can click here.