Two warriors of the sport. Thistledo and Trainer David Blundell post-race.

Gundagai trainer David’ Darky’ Blundell and Wagga jockey Josh Richards combined to win Sunday’s $32,000 Cootamundra Cup with old stager Thistledo. The last to enter the barriers when jumping from gate nine, the 11-year-old was first home in the 1400m event, finishing strongly down the outside to win by half-a-length from the Nick Olive-trained Invincible Dash (Nick Heywood, $7), while three-quarters of a length back in third was the Theresa Bateuptrained Shaka Rock (Molly Bourke, $10).

The Zariz gelding, one of the more popular gallopers in the Southern Districts and South East, brought up his seventh career win as a $21 chance, and Richards was thrilled to be the one in
the saddle.

“It’s good to win these Country Cups,” Richards said. “Darky is pretty laid back, and he said he’d leave it up to me.

“I’ve ridden the horse a few times, and he always lobs up in these sorts of races, especially when everything goes right and pans out.

“The race worked out perfectly for him, and he showed up and got the job
done.”

It was Thistledo’s last race, with the old boy going out a winner, and Richards joked that he must have been channelling his veteran trainer in the run.

“Everything did pan out, and Darky knows what he is doing, and the horse is a bit like his trainer; an old
warrior, and he’s tough,” Richards said.

It was a spectacular return to racing for Cootamundra Turf Club, whom the COVID pandemic and wet weather had plagued in recent seasons. Despite only getting the go ahead to race in August, Richards was pleased with the Cootamundra racecourse.

“They run the meeting just fine; horses were winning from everywhere, and I thought it played pretty
fair.”

Richards’ win in the Cootamundra Cup on Thistledo made it a winning double after he triumphed earlier
on the card when guiding the Craig Weeding-trained Add Milk ($3.40) to victory in the 1200m Benchmark 58 Handicap.

Racing midfield, Richards finished strongly down the middle of the track to win by a length. The two wins add to what has been a hot run for Richards after he brought up doubles at Griffith, Jerilderie, and Leeton last month.

“Things have turned, which is good,” Richards said.

“I’m having a bit more luck lately, and in this game, it goes around like a merry-go-round, and you have your good runs and your bad runs.

“Things have been going nicely lately, and I’ve been getting on some nice horses that are coming through, and I’ve been getting support from a lot of different trainers, and it’s a good time of year to
be riding winners.”

On a big day at Cootamundra, champion jockey Danny Beasley rode a treble. Riding the well-named
Fil for Wagga trainer Scott Spackman, the pair proved too strong in the 1600m Class One/Maiden Handicap.

The five-year-old raced in the back half of the field before the Wagga jockey elected to make a three-
wide move mid-way through the race. Beasley maintained the three-wide run, and racing in the middle of the track, the Rebel Dane found enough on the Cootamundra home straight, finishing strongly to get up and win the $27,000 event as a $6 chance.

Beasley also guided the Nick Olive-trained Craft ($3.20) to a three-length win in the 1400m Maiden
Plate, while his third winner was on the Michael Travers-trained Magical Slipper ($3) in the 1400m Benchmark 58 Handicap. In other races on the day, the Gary Portelli-trained Miss Hades (Julia Presits,
$1.95) won the 1100m Maiden Handicap, the Doug Gorrel-trained Asgarda (Kyala Nisbet, $3) triumphed in the 1200m Class One Handicap, and the Barbara Joseph, Paul and Matt Jones-trained Zelago (Jake Barrett, $11) was too good in the 1100m Benchmark 66 Handicap.

Our resident legend Lynn Spain was at the races and took some great shots. Check out her page in this weeks paper for more. There’s also no better place for the Times to have a great big gallery of the fashions on the field with our story to go with it, than on our Coota Times website.

Happy viewing.