Travers creates history in Gundagai

Mick Travers aboard Estaverdi, who he trained and rode to win the 1800m Maiden/Class One Handicap at Gundagai-Adelong Race Club on Sunday.

Mick Travers may have registered around 1000 career wins and taken home countless country cups, but it was Estaverdi’s win in the 1800m Maiden/Class One Handicap at Gundagai-Adelong Race Club on Sunday that will stay with the legendary country hoop the longest.

The 47-year-old created history when winning the event as both a trainer and jockey, making him the first NSW-based dual licence trainer/jockey to win a race in NSW. 

Estaverdi’s victory was a welcome result for Travers, who has been dual licenced for eight months. 

“I’ve pretty much only had her at the races,” Travers said.

“I gave two runs to King of Sting and retired him straight away and I’ve given Madhmoonaha a couple of runs – she is starting to come good, but she is a stayer. 

“She (Estaverdi) is the only thing I’ve had that’s been close to competitive.”

Travers initially thought he had lost the race but was relieved to be named the winner after the judges took a good, hard look at the winning photo – Pride of Kalaru for Barbara Joseph and Paul and Matt Jones ran second and Dark Alibi for Nick Olive finished third.

“I thought I got beat, I was really dirty, because we picked this race out for her about three and a half weeks ago,” Travers said.

“It was a fantastic feeling to win, especially being my first winner.”

Travers said training was a natural progression for him, after learning so much during his storied riding career.  

“I have always wanted to train, I did it with my ex-fiancé (Jo Schubert) many, many years ago, and she had some good success and I’ve learned a lot from Rob Wellington and many others along the way, and I know it’s in me to train.” 

Travers made it a winning double on the Gundagai Cup card, after booting home Moore Euros in the 1180m Benchmark 66 Handicap for Luke Clarke, making the day all the more special.

The winning hoop was happy to bring up the milestone win at Gundagai, admitting he had a strong affinity with the popular Southern Districts racecourse. 

“Gundagai Cup day has been fantastic to me, Gundagai itself is one of my favourite places,” Travers said.

“I’ve won all the big races there and I was only thinking about it when I was coming over that it would be great to ride my first winner there as a trainer. 

“Probably my best ever win was Piracy winning the Gundagai Cup (in 2008), and that was my most memorable win up until today.”

The Wagga-based trainer and jockey now has a full stable, and Travers explained that he only had a certain amount of time to hold a dual licence before needing to make a decision on his future.

“If you asked me how many I was training last week, it was two, but it’s five today,” Travers laughed. 

“They have all turned up in the last couple of days and that is the most I’m allowed to have.

“I have to make a decision (on training or riding) after five years, that’s the rule, but look, I’m 47 and if I’m riding at 52, I’ll probably be disappointed in myself.”

Travers will continue to search for competitive horses as he ventures towards training full time in Wagga.

“It is a fantastic spot; it is nice and local to everywhere. I can get down to Melbourne and get up to Sydney nice and easy enough,” Travers said. 

“Now it is just about picking up the owners and picking up the horses and making a viable income more than anything.”