MORE than 20 years ago, Gai Waterhouse trained five flat winners from her first five runners as a trainer.
Her amazing training career took another step forward yesterday when Valediction, her first jumps runner, won a maiden hurdle at Warrnambool.
Australia’s First Lady Of Racing, speaking from Sydney, told The Standard Valediction’s win in the $20,000 race was exciting.
“It’s wonderful to win races anywhere for the owners but to win my first one as a jumps trainer is very exciting,” she said.
“I must admit I was a bit toey before the race. Patrick Flood rode a very good race.
“I’ve got to thank Eric Musgrove who did a lot of the early educating with Valediction.
“Valedicton’s win was even more special because Mary Rowsthorn, who has strong links with the Western District, is among the owners.
“I’m not sure which path we’ll go down with Valediction. We’ll just take him home and let the dust settle for a day or two before planning his next run. I’m still learning this caper as a jumps trainer but I really love it.”
The heavily-backed Valediction ($1.55 fav) gave Irish-born jockey Patrick Flood the first leg of a winning double.
Flood, who won a restricted steeplechase on Backburn, described Valediction as a horse with plenty of scope.
“It was a very impressive win by Valediction,” he said. “He was a bit green but will be improved by the run.”
The Warrnambool Grand Annual Steeplechase might be 27 days away but Cranbourne-trained jumper Backburn earned a start in the famous race when it took out the restricted steeplechase, his trainer Todd Balfour said.
Backburn defeated Pilots Choice by two lengths with Universal Sound in third place in the 3450-metre race.
Balfour said the Grand Annual had been in the back of his mind for the six-year-old for a few years. “He’s just a natural steeplechaser. I’ve got no worries he will run out the 5500 metres of the Grand Annual,” he said.
“I’ll never forget the day I bought him. I attended a mixed thoroughbred sale with Steven Pateman.
“I ended up giving $12,000 for him. Darley used to race him but we knew he would be a better horse once he matured.
“We gave him a year in the paddock after he tweaked his off-fore suspensory. He’s the best we’ve ever had him.”
The 36-year-old trainer gave credit for Backburn’s win to Trent Wells, who failed to make the weight to ride the horse in the $20,000 race.
“Trent has done a great job with Backburn. It was a shame he could not make the weight. Patrick rode the horse very well,” he said.
The Terry O’Sullivan-trained Viva Delspec was humanely euthanasied after the race. Stewards reported Viva Delspec faltered after the seventh jump. The incident has been reported to the jumps racing review panel.
Meanwhile the other jumps race on the eight-race card, a restricted hurdle, was won by Jervois for Darren Weir.