JUMPS jockey Richard Cully played down his winning ride on Jooli Lad in a benchmark 120 steeplechase at Warrnambool yesterday but trainer Ciaron Maher called the ride a brilliant piece of horsemanship.
Maher made his comments after Cully guided Jooli Lad to victory over Universal Sound and Sea Town in the 3450-metre steeplechase.
“I thought before the race it was a very even field of horses,” he said.
“I knew who put in the best ride would win the race and to Richard’s credit he rode the perfect race around Warrnambool.
“He allowed the other horses to set the pace and was prepared to sit off them.
“It was a brilliant ride. He moved Jooli Lad into the race at the fourth-last fence and then got an inside run coming to the last fence. It was a copybook ride.”
Cully, who won the Warrnambool Grand Annual Steeplechase last month on Chaparro, is riding in career-best form.
He celebrated victory on Amanood Lad in the McGregor Steeplechase at Ellerslie in New Zealand and two days earlier won the Australian Steeplechase on Krase.
“Ciaron’s words were very kind but I was just really pleased to ride a winner for him,” Cully said.
“It’s my first winner for Ciaron’s stable this year. He has been a great supporter of mine and so has Patrick Payne.
“Jooli Lad jumped great. He travelled into the race down the back strongly and when he led down he went to the line really well.”
Maher said Jooli Lad was not up to city class jumps races but would be suited to steeplechase races at Hamilton, Casterton and Warrnambool over the next few months.
Exciting Warrnambool-trained jumper Finley Harper is destined for tougher races after she scored an all-the-way victory in a $20,000 benchmark 120 hurdle race on the same program.
Finley Harper took her record over jumps to two wins from as many starts when she defeated Success Dostta by 12 lengths, with Redevelop 32 lengths away in third place.
Symon Wilde, who trains in partnership with his father Bill, said the five-year-old mare would have her next start in the $100,000 Kevin Lafferty Hurdle at Warrnambool on June 29.
“She’s a pretty handy type of jumper. She won the maiden hurdle at Casterton well but today’s effort was even more impressive,” Wilde said.
“She ticks a lot of boxes. She can stay and loves wet tracks. We’ll set her for the Lafferty Hurdle now. Finley Harper will run against better horses in the Lafferty but the way she’s going I reckon she’ll be very competitive in a race like that.”
Under-rated jumps jockey Shane Jackson, who rode Finley Harper to win the 3200-metre race, gave a glowing report.
“She’s not very big but she’s tough and has a big heart,” Jackson said. “The hardest part for me was to pull her up after the race. She’s got a bright jumping future in front of her.”
Cranbourne-trained Lyonell defeated Big Ben Chimes and Hiphopopotamus to take out the $20,000 maiden hurdle.
Trainer Gary Mallinson said Lyonell had been well schooled before his maiden jumps win.