Bob Milligan and his son Glen Milligan have continued a golden run of form, with Valley’s Sister surging through the field to win the $45,000 Walcha Cup on Friday.
Ridden by Ashley Morgan, the Taree galloper was taken back from gate nine, and during the race, the Welsh hoop found a nice spot before spearing to the front with 200m to go.
From there, the six-year-old found the line strongly, holding off the Neil Godbolt-trained Flying Mojo by 0.14 of a length, while 0.78 of a length away in third was the Peter Sinclair-trained Ah Well.
The six-year-old was coming off a seventh to Cecilia in the Queen of the North at Port Macquarie back in January, and Glen Milligan believed it was this eye-catching run over 1200m that had her ready for 1440m event at Walcha.
“She is a genuine mile mare, but if we didn’t go around the start before in the Queen of the North at Port (Macquarie), it would have been five weeks in between runs and that might have been too much,” Milligan said.
“She run a bottler in that Queen of the North too, and Brooke Stower came back after the race and she said she would be hard to beat wherever we go next.”
Ash Morgan picked up the ride on Valley’s Sister at Walcha and Milligan praised the in-form jockey for another gem of a ride.
“We didn’t have a rider at Walcha, but we were lucky to get Ash and credit to him; it was a good ride,” Milligan said.
“Once the gap came, he burst through it, and he reckons she was looking for the mile again.
“She was strong late and they toughed it out.”
The Benfica mare has been up since September and her feature-race win was the ninth start of her preperation, and while Milligan went to Walcha confident of a good run, he said he was wary of his mare and the need for a spell sooner rather than later.
“She needed luck from the alley,” Milligan said.
“We thought she was an each-way bet, but my only concern was that she was nine runs in.
“We space her runs, and she lives in a bigger yard, and I guess the old saying goes, ‘when mares are in form, you keep them going’, and she is going pretty good.”
With Valley’s Sister benchmark now creeping up to the high 60s, Milligan wasn’t sure where his mare would go next.
“It is going to be hard to work out what we do with her,” Milligan said.
“We don’t have many races for these horses once they get high up in the ratings and she is not a big strong mare by any means; I wish we still had those class 4, 5 and 6s for these horses.
“I haven’t even had a look for a race yet, but It won’t be for another two and half, three weeks.
“If we can find something in the bush, an open handicap or something, then we’ll go there, but she might have to go south to Wyong or something.”
Valley’s Sister’s win in the Walcha Cup caps off a tremendous 12 months for the Milligan’s, which has seen Charmmebaby win the $150,000 Mid North Coast Country Championships qualifier in February before running third in the $500,000 final at Royal Randwick in April.
The five-year-old also came out and won the Jungle Juice Cup and Taree Cup before breaking through with a Listed victory at Doomben late last year, while the stable also watched Texas Storm win the South Grafton Cup last year.
“The old man doesn’t get to the races these days, but he was over the moon with the win, and he thinks she has improved again this prep,” Milligan said.
“Since last February, we have had a good run. Charmmebay has been racing well and she won a Listed race on top of everything else she has won for us, and Texas Storm was going well but we recently sent him up to Lawrie Mayfield-Smith.
The Milligan’s kept up their good form at Port Macquarie on Sunday, with Glen training the quinella in the 1200m Class Four Handicap, with Country Championships hopefuls Swamp Nation (Mad Derrick) and Vicky’s One (Grant Buckley) finishing first and second.