James Ponsonby has made the decision to head west, with the popular country trainer moving his team from The Oaks to Orange.
Ponsonby, who now has 20 boxes on course at Towac Park, explained how the move came to be.
“We were always looking for a country change for our family, and it was suggested to us through Richard Callander that we should maybe look up a few of the country places,” Ponsonby said.
“He got me in touch with Bree McMinn at Orange, and from there we decided to make the move.”
Racing Orange have made major improvements in recent years, and Ponsonby was pleased with the facilities on offer.
“I am really happy with it,” Ponsonby said.
“The last track I worked on was when I was a Foreman at Warwick Farm, and the track facilities here are very good.
“Everything they have got, they try and improve on, and if there has been a problem, they have been straight onto it, either trying to repair it or improve it.”
Orange does get very cold during winter, but Ponsonby, who will call on his experience living and working in cooler climates, was prepared for the chilly conditions.
“When I was racing in Canada in the snow, it was cold, and the year I went to New Jersey in 2003, they had one of their worst winters in 50 years, so I’m sure it will be a rude shock, but it won’t be the first time I’ve had to deal with the cold,” Ponsonby said,
It hasn’t been all smooth sailing for Ponsonby, and while he is thrilled to be setting up shop in Orange, he is missing his wife Keryn, and children Henry, Sebastian, Victoria, and Lucy.
“I’ve got my wife and four kids, and they are still down there as my eldest son has to do his Naplan (exams), so they are coming up on weekends, but not having them around has definitely been the hard part of it all,” Ponsonby said.
“People that know us, wherever we go, we generally drag them with us, and it’s been a bit tough not having them around.”
Orange’s newest stable will be out to make it a winning move on Saturday, with Ponsonby teaming up with Wagga jockey Michael Travers, who will ride Sonny Fella ($21) in the 1290m Maiden Handicap, Can Do It ($2.40) in the 1290m Class Two Handicap, Walk Up Start ($5) in the 1610m Maiden Plate, and Reward for Xiao ($13) in the 1010m Maiden Plate.
“Can Do It has been in good, consistent form,” Ponsonby said.
“It won’t suit him if it gets any wetter, and we had a pretty massive rain storm come through yesterday, but if it improves, he will go well.
“His last three runs at Orange have been good, and he gets his chance to win tomorrow with a light weight (55kg) and the same jockey (Travers) on him.
“Another one (expected to go well) is Walk Up Start. He meets a pretty strong bunch of horses, and a couple from town, but on his last run I expect him to run a good race.”
Racing does take centre stage at Orange on Saturday, but it’s set to be a big day off-track, with the club putting on their Epiroc Ladies Day function.
There will be fashions on the field and entertainment. Gates open at 12pm and for more on the race day click here.
For Orange fields click here.