Shepparton News

Gelding pulls his Sokkies up


- By Meg Saultry

It wasn’t a great day out for locals at Echuca races on Saturday, but Benalla’s Ken Aldous was one trainer with nothing to sook about.

His four-year-old gelding Sokkies revelled on the good 3 surface, storming to its maiden victory in the $25,000 Hygain Maiden Plate over 1200m.

And Aldous must have been the only one who gave the battling maiden any hope because he paid a whopping $71.

Impressing the trainer so much he has already decided to set him for a run on Benalla Cup day.

Hopeful of a strong showing from Sokkies in his second start, Aldous admits to being a tad surprised by the pace with which his gelding finished the race.

‘‘What happened was, I was watching the race with my binoculars, but also on the screens in the betting ring,” Aldous said.

‘‘I was looking away from the track and then when he came around the corner, I thought, ‘oh no, here he goes, he’s going to drop out on us’. I turned and by the time I got my binoculars organised, he was about to hit the front.

‘‘His last 200 was clearly his best 200, he was able to stretch out on that good surface.

‘‘But I kind of lost the 200m where he got going, so it was a bit of a surprise.’’

Taking a share of the lead early, Sokkies turned the corner third, before kicking into full flight to beat the Leon and Troy Corstenstr­ained Little Schnitty, who had to be content being the bridesmaid again after also finishing runner-up at Warracknab­eal on August 28.

Sokkies’ win comes after a disappoint­ing debut at Wangaratta in June, where he finished 12th of 13.

‘‘I’m always hopeful when I take them to the races, but the reality is sometimes they don’t (go well) and that horse failed badly on a soft track the first time he raced,” Aldous said.

‘‘We had to put him away for a month’s holiday to have a rest and then start again.”

A further let up had Sokkies head to Mitch Fox’s and Brooke Sweeney’s show and training stables at Balmattum, with the horse one of only few to begin their Off the Track training before starting their racing career.

The Off The Track program aims to give racehorses a life after their retirement from racing.

“He’s one of the very first horses to do their off-track work before he actually raced,” Aldous said.

“He’s done his basic showing and dressage before he was put into work to be a racehorse.

“He’s actually a beautiful show prospect. He’s got four white socks, he’s beautifull­y big-bodied and has a great temperamen­t.”

Aldous said he hoped the initial training would benefit Sokkies in the long run.

“A lot of them are retrained after they race, but it’s harder because racing is all they know,” he said.

“It’s that adrenaline thing, but we are hoping that when he retires from racing, he can switch back to showing or show jumping easily because that was the first thing he was taught.”

Aldous also gave a lot of credit to Sweeney for her work with Sokkies.

“She’s ridden him in his jump outs and in his show training, She absolutely loves him,” Aldous said.

“And she gave him a perfect run out of a wide barrier (at Echuca). It’s a lot to do with knowing him and what he can do.”

Now Sokkies has his first win on the board, Aldous said a homecoming was likely for his horse.

“My guess is he will go to Benalla on Benalla Cup day,” he said.

“It will depend on his ratings. He’s likely to get a high rating because he’s only had the two races and has already won.

“There is a 0-64 there. A home track, as long as the surface is good, will probably be the best spot for him. “Because he is still a little bit green and new, a home track will be advantageo­us. The competitio­n will be a lot harder, but it will be the best option for him.”

A third for the Gwenda Johnstone-trained Bon Shadow in the $25,000 0-58 Handicap over 1200m was the best local result of the day.

The five-year-old gelding led from the start, though the Wendy Kelly-trained Last Charge lived up to his name, edging ahead of Malauka and Bon Shadow by two noses.

 ?? Picture: Brendan McCarthy/Racing Photos ?? Breakthrou­gh: Sokkies ridden by Brooke Sweeney wins the HYGAIN Maiden Plate at Echuca on Saturday.
Picture: Brendan McCarthy/Racing Photos Breakthrou­gh: Sokkies ridden by Brooke Sweeney wins the HYGAIN Maiden Plate at Echuca on Saturday.

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