‘Unsellable’ Pop Power proves doubters wrong at Gilgandra

Chelsea Ings with Pop Power, who was advertised to be sold twice before winning at Gilgandra for connections on Saturday for trainer Wanda Ings. Photo: Racing Photography.

Since the advent of online auctions, stories of horses who are sold cheaply and become bargain buys are not uncommon.

But this is one which escaped the clutches of bargain hunters! Not once, but twice.

New Zealand-bred Pop Power, a $19 winner last Saturday at the opening of the two-day Gilgandra Cup carnival, was offered for sale twice last year – and on both occasions failed to reach his reserve price.

Pop Power was first advertised on bloodstockauction.com in late July and after eight bids and reaching $7250, was passed in $750 short of his reserve.

Again put up for auction in September with a lesser reserve price of $5000, the gelding attracted 15 bids but once more was passed in after reaching $4750.

Understandably, Bathurst trainer Wanda Ings was thrilled when Pop Power made it two wins from as many starts on the Gilgandra circuit at the weekend when he edged out $4.60 joint favourite Annie’s Missile in the Benchmark 50 Handicap (1600m).

It was the third win of his career – and Ings has prepared him for all of them.

Whereas the now retired former country ace Greg Ryan rode Pop Power in his first two wins, Ings’ daughter Chelsea had the mount this time.

“Greg won on this horse at Gilgandra and again at a Showcase meeting at Bathurst in August and September, 2020,” Ings told NSW Country and Picnic Racing last night.

“In between those wins, he was a close second at Orange.

“Greg liked the horse, and I was devastated when he decided to hang up his boots.

“I told Chelsea not to ride him pretty in Saturday’s race, and he did a good job to win in a very close finish (first prize was $7605).

“Pop Power is a quirky little horse, but for some reason he likes the track at Gilgandra. I’m not really sure why.”

Ings got Pop Power to train in rather unusual circumstances 18 months ago.

Retired former Wyong trainer Les Tilley purchased Pop Power in New Zealand as a yearling for $10,000, and wasn’t able to win with him in 13 starts.

“I took one of my horses Chur Bro to Scone for a Class 1/Maiden Plate (2200m) on June 22, 2020 and he ran third,” Ings said.

“Pop Power ran fourth in the same race, and Les told me afterwards that he was giving training away and asked if I would like to take the horse home.

“I was happy to do so, and we came to a deal to pay him a few thousand dollars out of his first win.”

That came at his third start for his new trainer when he romped home in a 1550m Maiden at Gilgandra after a third and fourth placings at Mudgee and Bathurst.

“I gave him a spell after he won again two starts later at Bathurst, and thought he might become a country cups horse,” Ings said.

“But I couldn’t get him going again when he went back into work.

“He looked well, but didn’t race up to his looks.”

It was then that one of Pop Power’s previous owners, who had earlier decided to get back into the horse, wanted out – and he was put up for auction.

“I gave Pop Power a let-up, and that was his fourth run back this time at Gilgandra and I took a tongue tie off him,” Ings said.

“Obviously, I’d love to take him back there for his next race, but they don’t race again anytime soon.

“Pop Power has won on our home track at Bathurst, and was runner-up at Orange at his only start there, so we’ll look for another suitable race.”

Ironically, Chur Bro, the horse Ings took to Scone that day and came home with Pop Power, has indirectly landed her in hot water with RacingNSW stewards.

She is currently operating on a stay of proceedings (until her appeal is heard early next month) after being disqualified late last year for nine months by stewards following the completion of an inquiry into Chur Bro allegedly being stomach-tubed within a day of him being scheduled to race at Wellington on September 25 (he didn’t start).

“There was a cold snap at the time, and Chur Bro was one of four horses who weren’t drinking, and I was concerned about them.” Ings said.

“It was 32 hours prior to the race, and my understanding was that I had done this within the rules.

“I expected a fine and certainly not nine months’ disqualification.”

Ings has been training for 40 years, and had only one previous conviction 19 years ago.

“I’m fighting this because I’ve got 22 horses in work having relocated from Hawkesbury nearly two and a half years ago, and am busting my backside to get this sorted out.”