‘Omen bet’ Indian Thunder ready to strike in Lightning Ridge Cup

The Kevin Dixon-trained Indian Thunder will be ready to strike in Saturday’s Lightning Ridge Cup. Photo: Bradley Photos.

Punters looking for a sign in Saturday’s Lightning Ridge Cup (1200m) will undoubtedly be drawn to the Kevin Dixon-trained Indian Thunder. 

The well-named galloper will look to rumble down the dog-leg Lightning Ridge straight and strike at the right time in the $14,000 feature event.

“I suppose he is the omen bet,” Dixon laughed.

“He’s a lovely horse racing well, so you never know what can happen.”

Indian Thunder isn’t your typical Country Cup horse, with the Manhattan Rain gelding a Listed winner as a two-year-old when taking out the Queen Adelaide Stakes (1050m) at Morphettville in 2017.

In 80 starts, he’s won six races, and placed on a further 23 occasions, while bringing in well over $300,000 in prizemoney as he won and placed in races all over Victoria and South Australia.

After spending time with Darren Weir, Ciaron Maher & David Eustace, and Paul Preusker, the old stager eventually found himself racing in the North West of NSW in Dixon’s yard. 

Far from the limelight of the Listed and Group racing scene, Indian Thunder has won twice at Inverell, taking out an 1100m Benchmark 50 and the 1400m Bush Battlers Cup late last year. 

Still, he is as consistent as ever, with the old boy running a myriad of placings since then at Tamworth, Armidale, Dubbo and Walcha, absolutely earning his keep in the process.

“He might have won a Listed race at his second race start, but he’s been around for a long time,” Dixon laughed. 

“The owners wanted to give him away and didn’t want to continue with him, and I said I’d take him because he is a beautiful old horse. 

“He’ll make a good pony when he is finished racing; he’s a quiet, old horse, but he is sound, and I don’t do a lot with him, and I train him out of a paddock and swim him.”

Dixon believes being in a big paddock with his mates suits Indian Thunder down to the ground, and he might be on to something, with the well-travelled galloper knocking on the door of a seventh career victory. 

“I’ve tried everything with him; I was working him every day, and that wasn’t working, and then I put him in a 15-acre paddock, and he loves it, and he has been racing so consistently,” Dixon said. 

“He puts in all the time and seems to go well for apprentices. I have put a couple of good, strong jockeys on him, and he doesn’t seem to respond, but the kids and girls that aren’t as strong a rider seem to respond better with him.” 

The Tamworth galloper has been up for 12 months, starting 26 times since April last year for two wins and 11 minor placings.

He kicked off that incredible run at Lightning Ridge, finishing third over the 1000m journey, and Dixon believes he could have won that day.

“I actually took him to Lightning Ridge last year first-up from a spell, and we got out there, and the barriers broke, and they were all flag starts,” Dixon said. 

“The young apprentice (Angela Cooper) said he wasn’t too bad and that he loved the sand, and she thought he was going to win, but when they came up off the sand onto the grass, he changed stride and lost all his action, and got on the wrong leg and ran third.”

Dixon knows how to win a Lightning Ridge Cup, preparing Equable for victory in 2013, and he hopes Indian Thunder can win a second feature for the stable. 

“I won the cup there, and Jeff Kehoe rode him that day, and he came right up on the rail,” Dixon said. 

“We won a beautiful trophy, and it’s always a good day, and we can’t wait to get back there.” 

“As far as our fella (Indian Thunder), we’ll have to see what happens this year.

“I have put another three-kilo apprentice on him; her name is Kelsey Lenton, and she is an apprentice to Jane Clement, and she goes well.”

Easter Saturday’s Lightning Ridge Cup headlines what is a big day of non-TAB racing, and the club has been well-supported, with 70 acceptances for the six-race card. 

The club has recently welcomed new barriers from Coonabarabran, while their committee is working hard to put on a big show both on and off the track. 

For more on the race day, click here and for nominations, click here.