It may have been a victory 50 years in the making, but Seymour trainer Ray Plant was finally able to get his hands on the Merton Cup at Merton last Sunday.TIM WOOD January 9, 2013 4:00am
‘‘I came here about 50 years ago and ran a horse in the cup,’’ he said.
‘‘It was a two horse field .
Half a century later his four-year-old mare Safa Park Girl recorded a comfortable four-and-a-half length win in warm conditions.
The trainer was honest in his assessment after the race of the mare he had obtained earlier this year from a NSW stable.
‘‘She goes around all right,’’ he said.
‘‘She’s just an ordinary horse, but she really plugs away.’’
After winning at Yea last month, the veteran trainer knew he had the mare in good shape going into the cup.
‘‘I felt very confident before the race,’’ he said.
For his young jockey Reece Goodwin, the journey to a Merton Cup victory has been a little shorter.
In just his first season of riding, and his very first ride at Merton, the fifteen-year-old was able to ride Safa Park Girl to an easy win.
In a ride that belied his inexperience, Reece allowed the mare to settle midfield before making a race winning move at the 600
‘‘I had a few tips from the experienced jockeys and they said to get rolling around the side of the track,’’ Goodwin said after the race.
‘‘They said if you’re in front on the corner here, you’re a good chance.
‘‘As soon as I got around them today I thought she was going to be really hard to run down.’’
Plant was full of praise for his young jockey.
‘‘He’s done a mighty job.
‘‘He rides her in all her track work and he wins on her, which is really good.’’
The Merton Racing Club (the second oldest club still racing) presented Plant with a trophy and rug minutes after the win.
Plant’s colourful acceptance speech included praise for the Merton club, his young jockey and finished with a friendly ‘‘bake’’ for the local book makers who had sent his mare out as an odds-on favourite; Plant felt they could have been a bit more generous.
Plant is realistic about the mare’s chances going forward.
‘‘She won’t be going to Flemington,’’ he said.
While pleased with her cup win, he feels she is best suited running in picnic races.
‘‘I don’t think she’s good enough to make it at the next level, so I think we’ll stick with the picnics.’’
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