Tom Wilson opts for Gundagai expedition over city riches

The Tom Wilson-trained The Bent Elbows will race at Gundagai Adelong Race Club on Saturday. Photo: Bradley Photos.

Despite his galloper The Bent Elbows gaining a start in Saturday’s Highway Handicap at Royal Randwick, Queanbeyan trainer Tom Wilson will instead try his luck at Gundagai-Adelong Race Club on Saturday. 

Wilson said the owners wanted to watch their galloper at Gundagai, and the veteran trainer has chosen to target the 1400m Benchmark 50 Handicap.   

“She is definitely going to Gundagai,” Wilson said. 

“The owners mother passed away nearly two weeks ago, and one of the brothers of the owner has come home from England, and they want to watch it race.

“We thought about going to Sydney, which would have been nice, but instead we are going to Gundagai.” 

Owned by Elliott Politch, Wilson said the family was heavily into racing. 

“Elliott was a swabbing steward in this region and his dad Trevor Poltich was also a steward, and their mother was a big racing person, so it would be good to get them a win,” Wilson said.

The Your Song filly has won two times in nine starts and despite finishing fifth in the 1405m Benchmark 58 Handicap at the Sapphire Coast on July 12, Wilson was travelling to Gundagai confident that a third victory was in the offing. 

The three-year-old has Richard Bensley in the saddle and has drawn gate 14.

“She probably should have won at the Sapphire Coast last start, but she got caught wide and couldn’t get in, but she still ran a good race,” Wilson said. 

“She should go well, and we are reasonably confident she can win.”

Wilson believes he has two good winning chances, with Zariz No Water set to contest the 1700m Benchmark 50 Handicap.

Robyn Freeman will take the ride and the four-year-old is set to jump from gate 4.

“At Gundagai three or four starts back, he ran second, and the horse bucked in front of him in that race, and it threw Tyler Schiller over the fence, and we got caught up in the trouble, but it was a massive run,” Wilson said. 

“He is a nice horse, and you would think he would win it on his form.

“Plus, he got beat at the Sapphire Coast when finishing second but the horse that beat him (Ivira) has come out and dead-heated at Moruya so there is winning form all around him.”

Wilson will also have two-year-old colt Battle Abbey contesting the 1000m Maiden Handicap, and with Julia Presits in the saddle and from gate 11, the Queanbeyan trainer expected another good run at Gundagai.

“He is a nice two-year-old. He should go well and run a good race,” Wilson said. 

Wilson did joke it would be nice to get another win over his Gundagai rivals, with the Harden product copping his fair share of losses when playing for the Hawks in the early 1970s. 

“I grew up in Harden, and I used to get beaten by the Gundagai footy players every year, so it’s good to go back there and get one back,” Wilson laughed.

There looks to be chances galore on a good Gundagai Adelong Race Club program, and with the meeting falling on a cool and dry Saturday, the club is opening up the gates and offering free entry. 

Tips, trials and tribulations

Race 1 – Tips: 1-4-5-3 

The 1100m Class One Handicap is the smallest field of the day with only eight starters.

There are a few differing form lines to draw upon, with some last-start picnic winners adding to an intriguing race. 

Murkowski looks to be the class galloper of the field though, with the Joe Cleary runner only lightly raced, boasting one win and one placing from four starts. 

A last-start placegetter at Queanbeyan, the Swice Ace mare has exposed heavy track form and if the three-year-old runs up to her last start effort, she should be winning this race. 

Race 2 – Tips: 6-1-5-10

The 1180m Maiden Plate is the weakest race on the program, with a few underwhelming types out to remove their maiden status.

War Dog has started seven times, finishing second on two occasions, but three-year-old has been racing in much tougher maiden company south of the border. 

The heavy track will be a query, but with Nick Heywood on board, the Wangaratta galloper looks the best of an ordinary bunch. 

Race 3 – Tips: 1-12-3-10

The 1000m Maiden Handicap is another tough race for punters to grapple with, with a couple of first starters tackling some tried and fairly ordinary ponies. 

Artie Bee from the Aaron Clarke stable debuted at the Sapphire Coast earlier this month and he showed some good early pace when leading before eventually fading to finish fifth, beaten 3.54 lengths over 1005m.

The three-year-old will be better and fitter for the run and with Richard Bensley in the saddle, the Flying Artie gelding should be running them along from gate five. 

Race 4 – Tips: 7-3-1-6

The 1000m Benchmark 50 Handicap is a good race on paper, and again punters are spoilt for choice with varying form lines on offer. 

If punters are chasing a bit of value, Gottabe Red from the Nell Foley yard looks an interesting play. 

The six-year-old has only won once from 22 starts, but she has placed a further seven times and is never far off the pace. 

Following a 26-week spell, the Ad Valorem mare finished third and was beaten only 1.2 lengths at Moruya in what was her debut for the Foley stable, and she looks to be travelling nicely ahead of this race following another 10-week freshen-up.

She handles the heavy conditions and Richard Bensley is in the saddle, which should bode well for her chances.

Race 5 – Tips: 4-3-2-7

Zariz No Water looks one of the best bets of the day in the 1700m Benchmark 50 Handicap. 

The Tom Wilson-trained galloper won three starts back over 1605m and should have won again last start over the same distance at the Sapphire Coast.  

Ivira, which beat him that day, has since won again at Moruya, and from gate four and with Robyn Freeman in the saddle, the four-year-old will take some beating. 

Race 6 – Tips: 7-1-9-8

An open race closes off the Gundagai Adelong Race Club program, and there looks to be a handful of chances in the 1400m Benchmark 50 Handicap. 

It’s hard to split the top weight Lennox Road and Wangaratta visitor Ghosted.

Lennox Road is proven at Gundagai and in heavy conditions, but Graham Byatt is stepping the seven-year-old to 1400m – a distance he has never won at. 

Gate three does suit and he gets four kilograms off and only carries 58kg after Coriah Keatings’ maximum claim. 

Ghosted from the Ben Brisbourne yard is also a big chance.

The four-year-old is proven over the distance and finished a last-start third over 1400m at Narrandera, which was a really good effort.

The heavy track is a query, and gate nine won’t be the easiest of gates for jockey Jason Lyon.