London Gal won Sunday’s $30,000 Narooma Cup (1300m) emphatically for Goulburn trainer Scott Collings and veteran jockey Mathew Cahill.
Commencing from gate nine of nine, the six-year-old jumped nicely, with Cahill electing to stay wide as the pair balanced up and eased to the front to lead comfortably with just over 1000m left in the race.
From there, it was a Cahill front-running masterclass as London Gal ($14) led the field into the straight and held on strongly to win by a half-length from the Natalie Jarvis-trained Napoleon Solo (Robyn Freeman, $21) while in third and a length back was the Jamie Stewart-trained iconic Dame (Jean Van Overmeire, $4).
Making the win all the more impressive is that it was in a track record time of 1:16.52.
“She went really good,” Collings told NSW Country and Picnic Racing.
“She has come back in really good order this preparation. I was surprised that she ran them times over the 1300m.
“I wouldn’t say we went down there confident, but when we started her first-up at Goulburn, we were confident she could win.
“Then, she had that mishap at Canberra and nearly fell over, so we went to Moruya wondering if she could bounce back to that run at Goulburn.”
Collings would typically call on stable jockey and hard-working trackwork rider Nick Heywood, but he was unavailable due to commitments at Coonamble.
Still, the in-form trainer was quick to thank Cahill for the winning ride.
“I get on really well with Matty and we had a good chat beforehand, and I told him to let her go through her gears without making her do too much,” Collings said.
“That’s what he did, and he called me that afternoon and said it was nearly a sit-and-steer job and that she did it all herself.”
The Sizzling mare is now a five-time winner, with her earnings creeping towards the $150,000 mark, and Collings explained that his mare seemed to now appreciate racing over a bit more ground.
“She was racing well, but it was more so we hadn’t stretched her out, and we kept her at the 1000m,” Collings said.
“She seemed to be getting back and going through the motions, so we stepped her straight up to 1300m at Goulburn, and Alysha Collett was on her that day, and she won well, and since then, we realise now she doesn’t mind getting up to 1200m and 1300m.”
Winning the Narooma Cup means London Gal is exempt from the ballot for the $75,000 Moruya Cup (1425m), which will be run and won on Monday, January 8.
While it is a step up in distance against a better-quality horse, Collings suggested that was likely the new path for his galloper.
“I think we will go there, more than likely,” Collings said.
“She has had one go at 1400m, and she ran fourth in a Federal at Canberra and was only beaten half a length.
“The Moruya Cup will be harder, and there will be a lot more pressure, but she is exempt from the ballot, and we should be having a crack.”
It’s been a good little period for Collings, who unleashed another potential star at Canberra earlier this month.
Racing Aunty Ginny, the three-year-old thrived in heavy ten conditions when putting nearly three lengths on the field in the 1000m Maiden Handicap.
“She was very impressive,” Collings said.
“I think she is a nice filly going places, and she went straight to the paddock after that to have a break, and she’ll be in Sydney and in them Highways.”
It was another excellent day’s racing at Moruya Jockey Club on Sunday, who are preparing for a busy start to 2024 with the Moruya Cup (January 8) and SERA Country Championships qualifier (March 3).
In the $29,000 Narooma Town Plate (1010m), the Keith Dryden-trained Incentive led throughout for James Innes Jnr, with the $1.55 favourite a popular winner when making in win five from start 12.