Inverell trainer eyes Goodwood Cup

Up-and-coming trainer Ridge Wilson will be chasing his first win on his home track when racing at Inverell on Boxing Day. 

The 22-year-old former picnic jockey kicked off his training career when Blue Sky Moon won at Armidale in April, and he’s since had winners at Moree and Grafton. 

Still, a win on his home track has eluded him.

“It would be fantastic to win a race at Inverell, especially in the time-honoured Goodwood Cup; it is one of those races you want to win,” Wilson told NSW Country and Picnic Racing.

“The Goodwood Cup is up there with the Diggers Cup, Inverell Shorts, Inverell Cup, and even the Bush Battlers Cup, which they now run.”

Wilson will start defending champion Blue Sky Moon in the 2023 Goodwood Cup, and he believes the seven-year-old has a good chance. 

The Puissance De Lune gelding won the race in 2022 for George Woodward, and in four starts for Wilson, he hasn’t missed a place, winning art Armidale and Grafton.

Still, his two wins were separated by a 29-week spell, with the six-time winner needing bone chips removed. 

“He’s in some good form,” Wilson said. 

“He was racing well last preparation, and after he won at Armidale, he ran third but didn’t pull up well, and we had him x-rayed and found out he had bone chips in both of his knees, so we had to get them removed.

“He had about $8000 poured into his knees to get him feeling as good as possible. Sarra (Magann) and I agreed that this would be his last prep before he went and became a show horse.” 

Following his spell, Blue Sky Moon hit the ground running, getting home to win the 1006m Benchmark 58 Handicap at Grafton on November 16 before running a good second to the John Shelton-trained Lady Tulessa in the 1000m Benchmark 58 Handicap at Ballina on December 4.

“His first up run at Grafton was good, and it was pleasing to see him get the money,” Wilson said. 

“They are always a 50/50 chance when they come back from knee surgeries, but he got what he needed to be done, and he was in good order when it happened, and I believe that is why he has come back in good order.  
“At Grafton, it was another good run, but the winner got in a lot better at the weights; John had her primed, and we just ran into one a bit better on the day.

“The horse couldn’t be going much better and has definitely repaid what we put into him.”

In terms of his Goodwood Cup defence, apprentice Cassey Williams will be in the saddle, and Wilson believes his old stager is better suited by the six furlongs.

“I think he is looking for that 1200m now,” Wilson said. 

“His father got over a mile and beyond, and he is out of a Snitzel mare, and I think that is where he gets his speed.”

Wilson will start three horses at Inverell with Jakat (Wendy Peel) and Spanish King (Cassey Williams) to contest the Class Two (1600m).

“Spanish King finds a really winnable race,” Wilson said.

“He has actually got a lot of ability but has to put it all together; he’s left us scratching our heads a lot of the time.

“We think we’ve worked out what he likes, and if they do go ahead at Inverell, he will be a hard horse to beat. 

“Jakat is going through his paces, and we’ve changed him up a bit and put him over the jumps to get him focusing again, and we’ll see how he goes.”

A wet track could be the biggest obstacle for Wilson and other trainers.

At the time of publishing, Inverell was a heavy ten, and there is more wetter weather forecast, meaning the meeting was in some doubt of going ahead. 

As a result, Wilson has also entered his team for Quirindi on Boxing Day.

With nine in work, Wilson is already looking ahead to Inverell on New Year’s Day, and he is set to have at least two runners going around in the $30,000 Inverell Shorts (1050m)

“It’s full steam ahead at the minute,” Wilson said. 

“We’ve taken on a few new owners recently, which is really good. 

“We’ll have a couple in on Inverell Cup Day, and Hiraishin and Timely Bell will look to go to the time-honoured Inverell Shorts, and it won’t be easy, but hopefully, we can knock it over.”