Boy’s win goes down a treat
The length of time between drinks made it taste that much sweeter when Toby Autridge and Danny Deegan raised a glass after the first race at Ellerslie on Saturday.
The cause for celebration was the win by Boy, a horse with a plain name and looks to match.
It wasn’t exactly a first for the Autridge-Deegan combination and didn’t carry the prestige of their best result together, but like the glass of Stella Artois in their hands, it still went down well.
Back in December 1998, former Matamata couple Danny and Meredith Deegan won the Avondale Gold Cup with their fine stayer Yes Indeed, who was ridden by Toby.
In early 1996 Yes Indeed had won the Wellington Cup, the same race he had finished second in two years beforehand, while he had also been good enough for his owners to have their own Melbourne Cup experience in 1995.
Leg problems had interrupted various stages of Yes Indeed’s career and when he won the Avondale Cup it was to be his last race.
As a pint-sized teenager in the late 1970s, Toby had gone within inches of winning the Melbourne Cup on Dandaleith.
His frame quickly outgrew his jockey ambitions, however, forcing him to hand his licence in and join his father Bob in a training partnership in the early 1980s.
Major wins with Al Dwain and Olga’s Pal were the highlights of a productive decade. Al Dwain rose through the grades to the point that he was sent to the 1983 Melbourne spring carnival, where he won the Bendigo and Sandown Cups. On a return visit the following year he won the Turnbull Stakes and finished third in the Caulfield Cup.
Olga’s Pal was a star of the 1988-89 three-year-old filly crop, when her wins included the New Zealand 1000 Guineas and the Desert Gold Stakes.
By the end of that decade Toby had decided on a return to race-riding. His weight meant flat opportunities would be limited but he quickly made his mark over jumps.
In mid-1989 he joined the legends of jumps riding when he won the Great Northern HurdleSteeplechase double on Noble Heritage and Tumblin’ Down.
Further successes came his way but a shoulder injury, alleviated by greater control of his weight, resulted in a return to flat riding.
Yes Indeed’s Avondale Cup win under Toby at 54 kilograms was one of numerous highlights.
His career came to a sudden halt a year later, however, when he suffered serious injuries in a race fall at Ruakaka.
Toby’s most serious injury was a fracture of his c2 vertebrae – known as the hangman’s break and often fatal or at least paraplegic – along with a double fracture in his lower back, rib fractures and both lungs collapsed.
‘‘It was a grim time but luckily after a month on my back in Whangarei Hospital I was able to walk out,’’ he recalls.
‘‘The greatest thing stuck up there during that time was my mate Kim Burke.
‘‘He drove across every day from Dargaville to spend as much time as he could with me. That’s really what got me through.’’ After a long recovery, Toby got his life back together, but it would be several years before he became involved in racing again.
The purchase of a block of land on Peria Rd was the catalyst, agisting and pretraining racehorses to begin with and then three years ago deciding to reapply for his trainer’s licence.
Racehorse numbers have never been more than a handful, but the wins are coming more regularly, with Boy’s weekend success the fourth for the season.
Danny and Meredith Deegan, dairy farmers at Titoki in the Whakatane district since leaving Matamata, have enjoyed their share of wins with Yes Indeed and other lesser performers, but Saturday’s was their first at Ellerslie.
‘‘Danny was over the moon, he reckoned it was better than the Group Two placing they had with Yes Indeed there,’’ said Toby.
‘‘It was big buzz for me as he and I have been mates for years.
‘‘He’s one of the nicest people you’d ever want to meet.’’
Boy was ridden on Saturday by local apprentice Shohei Shirahama, who was also on board in the gelding’s only previous win when Danny was doing the training himself.
In an ice-cool ride after Boy had ended up well back in the field from the 1200-metre start, Shohei bided his time before angling into the clear and getting his mount home with a wet sail for an easy win.
When the new season begins on August 1, there’s likely to be a fresh name in the racebook alongside Toby Autridge’s.
That will be Cyril Goodwin, an Irishman who has played a significant role in stable operations for the past year and has earned sufficient stripes to go into partnership with Toby.
‘‘Cyril is a big part of what’s happening here these days and I’m looking forward to he and I going into partnership together.’’
Another local training partnership that has quickly cemented itself is that between Ballymore Stables principal Mike Moroney and newly licensed Chad Ormsby.
Mike made the decision earlier this year to replace Andrew Clarken, his training partner of recent times, with Chad, who at the time was still a licensed jockey.
Rather than being any slight on Andrew’s well recognised contribution to Ballymore’s success over the past two seasons, the reasoning behind the change related to Chad being the partner of Mike’s daughter Aliesha, who is also involved these days in the family business.
For his part, Chad has certainly stamped his presence, with Saturday’s double by Gospel (Awapuni) and Crown Of Thorns (Ellerslie) taking the new partnership’s tally since the beginning of last month to seven.
Across the Tasman, where Mike is as usual engaged at this time of year in the Queensland winter carnival, his ‘‘son-in-law’’ registered further brownie points when Shenzhou Steeds, a horse purchased by Ballymore on Chad’s recommendation, won the A$200,000 Ipswich Cup.
Shenzhou Steeds was well handled in his big weekend win by Eddie Wilkinson, who has ridden for the past two decades from a Brisbane base but beforehand was stable rider for Ballymore Matamata.
Teamwork: The winning Ellerslie combination of Boy and rider Shohei Shirahama.