Gorrel won the cup in 2019 with prolific picnic galloper Southern Gamble, and the club didn’t race in 2020 and 2021 due to the impacts of the Covid-19 pandemic.
Racing finally returned to Grenfell on Saturday and Would Be King – under the guidance of Anaëlle Gangotena – started the $3 favourite and found the line strongly, beating the Mont Waters-trained Namarari (Emily Waters) by 2.82 lengths, while in third and a further half-length away was the Peter Kirby-trained Broo Boss (Breanna Bourke).
Tumbarumba owners Gordon and Judy Kelso were on hand for the win, and Gordon was happy to see his seven-year-old deliver the stable a long-awaited country cup.
“It was just brilliant,” Mr Kelso said.
“The horses in front set a really great pace and that suited Would Be King down to the ground.
“We knew he would run a great race. He finished second in the Tumut Mile, and for a while there we were calling him the Tom Melbourne of the bush, and on that run and other results, we knew he would handle the 1400m and he did, and he won well.”
Gangotena gave the Lethal Force gelding every chance in the feature race of the day, and she drew high praise from Kelso and connections.
“It was a great ride from Anaelle. She sat off the pace, then pulled him out at about the 200m and that was the end of the section – he was just too good for them,” Kelso said.
“Anaelle didn’t have to whip him, it was just hands and heels past Namarari, another Tumbarumba horse, and he cruised to the line.”
Kelso admitted the win meant a lot to him, with their champion picnic campaigner Southern Gamble winning the same race in similar fashion back in 2019.
“It was very exciting. It was quite emotional for us, because Would Be King wore the same winkers that Kenny (Southern Gamble) wore when he won the cup (in 2019) and it felt like we were watching Kenny all over again,” Kelso said.
“It was the same distance, and he won much the same too.”
Gorrel and Gangotena had a terrific day at Grenfell, winning three races on the card, with Sestina ($2.30) taking out the Grenfell Bracelet over 1000m.
The seven-year-old proved just a little too good for the Allan McRae-trained and Rebecca McRae-ridden It’s Business Time ($1.50) in second and the Mont Waters-trained and Emily Waters-ridden Miracle Knight ($4.40) in third.
Gorrel and Gangotena then won the 1200m Class Two Trophy with Georgian Court ($1.80), which put almost five lengths on the Sharon Jeffries-trained and Wayne Wheatly-ridden Mr Bobcat ($4), while in third was the Darryl Rolfe-trained and Will Stanley-ridden Hamish The Swift ($6.50), which finished 10 lengths from the winner.
“It was really nice to see Doug get three winners,” Kelso said.
“Over the Canberra carnival, we had two horses that raced in our colours get beaten by a nostril, but it’s nice to go to the bush, and great to get some winners.
“Plus, everyone was so happy for Doug because he such a big supporter of bush tracks and he doesn’t ship them there either. “He gets in there and straps them and he is there for the whole day.”
Kelso praised Grenfell for hosting a good meeting, both on and off the track, and he hopes to get to more picnic meetings in the coming months.
“As a secretary of a small club (Tumbarumba Turf Club), it’s always great to be able to support other smaller clubs, and we just loving getting to the picnics when we can,” Kelso said.
“Grenfell held a great meeting, and it is a credit to them.”
For full Grenfell results, readers click here.