Penshurst Cup win ends tough year for trainer Anne McGrath

ORFORD trainer Anne McGrath put a year of cancer treatment behind her to be trackside as restricted galloper Six Beat won the $15,000 Penshurst Cup yesterday.

McGrath, who had her last dose of chemotherapy on December 11, said she could take no credit for the short half-head victory of Six Beat over Diamonds At Noon, preferring to hand the accolades to her nephew Josh Julius.

“Josh has done a wonderful job preparing Six Beat for the cup. He had the horse rock solid to run out 2000 metres,” a delighted McGrath said.

It has been a tough year for McGrath, but she is grateful for the support of family and friends.

“I finished my last dose of chemo just a couple of weeks ago. I’ve had chemo each month for the past year,” she said.

“I have not been able to do much work with the horse.

“We knew we were running out of our class, but it is Boxing Day, so we decided to have a throw at the stumps and it’s come off.

“Six Beat had a big jump in distance from 1400m to 2000m but it was a brilliant ride by Lily Coombe. 

‘‘She rated the horse perfectly in front.”

Coombe, apprenticed to Warrnambool trainer Matthew Williams, took Six Beat to the front from barrier two. 

She dictated the pace and was never headed.

The 20-year-old apprentice, who is studying law at Deakin University, described the win as the highlight of her short riding career.

“Six Beat is a tough horse,” Coombe said.

“He just kept on giving and never wanted to get beaten.

“He jumped well, was on the bridle the whole way and with his light weight he just kept on giving.

“It was his first time running over 2000m. 

“I’ve only been riding for five months. 

‘‘I’ve ridden 10 winners but today’s win is the highlight.”

Six Beat, the rank outsider at odds of $17, was bought by Western District connections for McGrath two years ago.

They parted with $26,000 to purchase the former Darley horse at a mixed thoroughbred sale in Melbourne.

Meanwhile, imported galloper Initiator scored an impressive win for Warrnambool trainer Aaron Purcell in an $80,000 race over 1600m at Caulfield.

The five-year-old was brilliantly ridden by champion jockey Damien Oliver, scoring a 1¾-length victory over Alrouz.

Purcell said Oliver was happy with the way Initiator performed.

“Ollie said the horse settled better today than at his prior run,” Purcell said. 

‘‘He said Initiator is still learning to race. 

‘‘He reckons the horse has a high cruising speed.

“I still think we’re a year away from seeing the best of Initiator. 

‘‘He looks to have a promising career in front of him seeing he’s only had 10 starts in Australia.”

Initiator has won four of his 16 starts.

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