Indian Thunder ready to strike twice in Lightning Ridge Cup

Camille Houlgatte will ride the Kevin Dixon-trained Indian Thunder in Saturday’s Lightning Ridge Cup. Bradley Photos.

Tamworth galloper Indian Thunder might be a rising ten-year-old with 102 starts under his belt, but he’s going as well as ever.

The Manhattan Rain gelding, trained by Kevin Dixon, won the 1100m Benchmark 58 Handicap at Armidale on March 18.

Ridden by Camille Houlgatte, this victory marked the gelding’s tenth career success and increased his career earnings to over $400,000. 

“He just knows what he’s there for and loves it,” Houlgatte told NSW Country and Picnic Racing

“He loves the competition and thrives off it. At Armidale, when we came around the bend and took on that leader, he went straight past it, and that’s when I knew we had it.

“He’s the only horse I’ve seen that looks behind to see how many more horses are left to go in the barriers, and when the last one moves in, he goes up to the wire.

“He looks at the starter, and he’s on it, and so professional and smart; he loves what he does.”

Indian Thunder was a Listed winner as a two-year-old when taking out the Queen Adelaide Stakes at Morphettville in May 2017. 

He has since enjoyed a storied career, which came back to life with Dixon, who has won six races with the old stager.  

“Everybody knows him, and Kevin gave him such a unique look with his mohawk,” Houlgatte laughed. 

“When I’m on him, I can hear people say, ‘That’s Indian Thunder’, and when I win a race and head back to Newcastle, they’ll say, ‘The good old boy has done it again’; he’s always the talk of the track.

“He’s the best, my all-time favourite; I am hoping to rehome him when he is retired, and I’ve talked about it with Kevin.”

On Saturday, Indian Thunder will shoot for his 11th win and back-to-back Lightning Ridge Cup wins.

Last year, Kelsey Lenton was in the saddle when he won, but Houlgatte gets the opportunity this year, and she wants to make the most of it, as connections will be trying to win the $25,000 Opal bangle on top of the $7,450 that goes to the winner. 

“I have never ridden there, so this will be my first time, but he will show me around,” Houlgatte laughed. 

“We are confident, and Kevin has always planned to target the Lightning Ridge Cup. 

“I hope he can get it again for Kevin and his partner Tracey. They are such genuinely good people, and Kevin works so hard with this horse, so they deserve it.

“To win this cup for these good people would be amazing.”

Houlgatte has been riding in good form of late, enjoying success with the Paul Perry stable. 

They won with Senshi in the 1280m Benchmark 58 Handicap at Muswellbrook on March 15 and Sleeping Lion in the 1000m Maiden Plate at Taree on Tuesday. 

On Saturday, the two-kilogram claiming apprentice has three rides – all for the Dixon yard – and will also jump on Scatman in the 1000m Benchmark 58 Handicap and Fenerbache in the 1200m Benchmark 45 Handicap. 

“I have just had a bit of luck, but you know how this game is,” Houlgatte said. 

“Sometimes, you have good luck and bad luck, and you need to keep grinding. The wheel is turning at the moment.

“I’ve had some good results, and hopefully, I can continue that and win a Lightning Ridge Cup.”

As always, the $14,000 Lightning Ridge Cup headlines an action-packed six-race program. 

The meeting is part and parcel of the Lightning Ridge Easter festival, and a big crowd will be on hand for one of the more unique country cups in NSW. 

For more on the day, click here