Late call-up delivers Josh Richards emotional Albury Gold Cup win

This photo showcases just how easily the Robert Hickmott-trained and Josh Richards-ridden Beltoro won Friday’s Albury Gold Cup.

A late call-up to ride the Robert Hickmott-trained Beltoro has seen Josh Richards win the $200,000 Listed Albury Gold Cup on Friday. 

Richards was down to ride Independent Road for Ben and JD Hayes in the feature race, but after drawing wide, the Hayes stable scratched their charge.

At the eleventh hour, Richards was asked to ride Beltoro, which started second-favourite at $4.90

The pair travelled midfield before peeling wide on the home turn and pulling away for a dominant 4.24 lengths victory from the Danny Williams-trained Marsabit (Quayde Krogh, $26), while in third was the Ciaron Maher and David Eustace-trained Mankayan (Beau Merterns, $3.80).

An emotional Richards was caught up in the moment when chatting with Sky Racing’s Graeme White after the victory. 

“It’s a great thrill to win these country cups,” Richards said. 

“It was only yesterday on my way to the races (that I found out I was riding him). I was pretty fortunate, and Joe and Rob gave me the call up to ask if I was available. 

“They were in contact with the Hayes camp and it’s unfortunate they had to scratch, but it worked out great (for me), and I couldn’t pick up a better ride.”

Richards was taken by surprise when Beltoro quickened to put a few lengths on the chasing field in the 2000m event.

“I wasn’t game to look behind; you don’t know until it’s all over, but he just travelled so well,” Richards said. 

“At the top of the straight, I gave him some fresh air, and gave him a squeeze, and he sort of let rip like a sprinter; I really didn’t think I’d have that much turn of foot underneath me, but he was terrific.”

Beltoro and runner-up Marsabit have now qualified for the $2 million Big Dance and $500,000 Little Dance, which will be run and won at Royal Randwick on November 7. 

It was another big day for Albury Racing Club, with the second day of their annual Albury Gold Cup carnival including minor feature races such as the Albury Guineas and Flat Knacker. 

The 1400m Albury Guineas saw the three-year-olds do battle and Wangaratta trainer Ben Brisbourne won the $80,000 feature with Diesel ($11), which was ridden to victory by apprentice Hannah Edgley. 

In second and only 0.07 of a length back was the Craig Weeding-trained Fox Appeal ($18, Jake Duffy, and in third and 0.78 of a length off the pace was the David Brideoake and Matt Jenkins-trained Tapa Capall (Beau Mertens, $2.20).

The $75,000 900m Flat Knacker was an exciting affair, and Rob Stubbs used his home-track advantage as Sparring (Tyler Schiller, $3) held off the Matthew Smith-trained Way To The Stars (Keagan Latham, $5.50) by 0.66 of a length, while in third and 0.87 of a length off the pace was the Leon and Troy Corstens-trained Magnetic Jett Stanley, $2.80).

On the first day of the carnival, Tumbarumba products Molly Bourke and Nick Souquet took top honours, with Bourke winning the Albury Mile on the Chris Hardy-Zakeriz, while Souquet won the City Handicap on the Paul Murray-trained Espirito and for the full story on these wins click here

For Thursday’s results click here

For Friday’s results click here