Todd Smart has enjoyed one of his proudest days at the races on Wednesday when preparing his first city winner.
Racing at Warwick Farm, Smart had both Washington Towers and Tobermory contesting the 1000m Benchmark 72 Handicap.
In a dominant front-running display, jockey Ellen Hennessy took Washington Towers to the front from gate six and the five-year-old never looked like losing, bolting in for a 3.33 length victory, while in fifth place was Tobermory for jockey Madi Derrick.
Smart, who has gone agonisingly close to landing city victories in the past, was tickled pink to get the monkey off his back with Washington Towers.
“It is great to finally get one in town,” Smart said.
“I have had a lot of placings in Highways, and placings in town, and I even trained a third in the Albury Cup, but this is my first win in town and it’s just an awesome feeling.
“This is what I train for. I always had the goal to train a winner in Sydney and now I am going to aim for higher but training a winner in Sydney was the ultimate goal and one that I’m very proud to achieve.”
It meant so much more to Smart that his first winner was a Gundagai-owned galloper, with this particular group of owners supporting the local product from day one.
“What better way to do it than with Gundagai owners in this horse,” Smart said.
“The support from day one people like my parents, Ben McAllister, Wayne Pollack, and all those owners in that horse have been with me since day one and I’m so glad to get a city winner for them.”
Smart was the first to admit that his owners had to demonstrate some patience, with the Whittington gelding having been dealt his fair share of bad luck while on his way to winning 7 times from 21 starts.
“He is a horse that has had a few issues along the way, and he had a throat operation amongst other issues, but he is good now,” Smart said.
Heading to town, Washington Towers was a well-supported $4 commodity, and the Canberra galloper strived in the heavy 10 conditions.
Smart said the plan was always to get out and run the field along in the $50,000 event.
“Last week, he ran fourth, and couldn’t get across, but today we had the handlebars down a bit, and it was a matter of going forward at all costs, and it was the same with his two Canberra wins,” Smart said.
“He just likes to run along, and we always had the plan to run him along and the (heavy) track played into our hands today.
“A lot of winners couldn’t get picked up today and he is a fast horse out of the gate, and we knew he would take some running down.”
Washington Towers’ victory puts an exclamation mark on what has been a breakout season for Smart and his stable.
The Gundagai product has now trained 15 winners this year, earning connections almost $400,000 in prizemoney in the process.