Brave wins for Herbert – Thornton combo

Trudy Thornton getting the best out of Daniece to beat Showyouhow (inner) at Matamata today.

Trudy Thornton getting the best out of Daniece to beat Showyouhow (inner) at Matamata today.

The Cambridge combination of trainer Anne Herbert and jockey Trudy Thornton left only the scraps for the opposition in the first two races at Matamata today.

In tight finishes Thornton got the Herbert-trained Daniece home at the head of the field in first event, the Waikato Branch of NZ Farriers Association 1600, and stablemate Georgethefifth in the second race, the Paul Jones Contracting 1400.

Both gallopers recorded their first wins from limited racing and left Herbert and Thornton sure they can go on with the good work.

Daniece, a four-year-old Thorn Park mare, was having her fifth start and had not finished further back than fifth, while Georgethefifth, a three-year-old Sakhee’s Secret gelding, had been unplaced in his two previous starts.

Recent trials performances had suggested they would be hard to beat today and so it proved.

Daniece had been freshened after a second to Cardinal Sin at Matamata last July and beat Apprehend in a 1200-metre Cambridge trial earlier this month. Georgethefifth had also been freshened since his previous race, at Ellerslie last May, and followed a fourth at the Cambridge trials on September 8 with a second at the Te Awamutu trials last week.

Herbert was concerned about the heavy11 surface today for both horses, but thanks to the experience of Thornton the pair managed to get through the testing ground to win.

“I was a little bit worried with the 11 track but because it was the first race I decided to run her anyway as I felt she was well enough,” said Herbert after Daniece’s win. “A better track would have suited her better.

“Hopefully there is more to come once she gets over her optimum distance.

“She’s had a couple of preps with other trainers so she is reasonably new to me, but she’s a honey to train.”

In fact it has been a case of musical chairs with Daniece, who had been through at least four stables before joining Herbert’s team last May.

She had her first trial, as a two-year-old, for the then-Matamata partnership of Toby Autridge and Cyril Goodwin, and had a couple of further unplaced trials from Roger James’ Cambridge barn before returning to Matamata last year and being prepared by Alan Tait, who gave her a couple more trials (also unplaced).

Daniece then headed back to Cambridge and did a preparation with Trent Busuttin and Natalie Young and when they made the decision to head to Melbourne she transferred to Herbert’s care.

Obviously maturity, along with experience, has helped Daniece and in her first appearance from Herbert’s stable she won at the Cambridge trials last May.

For her owners, the Danamite Trust, she made her long-awaited raceday debut at Ellerslie in late May and finished fourth to fellow Cambridge galloper Ekarosa, then picked up a couple of fifths at Te Rapa before her second at Matamata after trying to lead all the way.

Today Daniece was settled into the trail by Thornton and was taken out to the centre of the track to challenge with 200 metres to run.

She got up late to head home a Cambridge trifecta in a desperate finish with Showyouhow (trained by Stephen Marsh) second and the Murray Baker and Andrew Forsman-trained Apprehend third.

“It was very testing, but she’s tough and fit and Anne has got her right on target for today so that was great. She deserves it,” said Thornton.

Georgethefifth (Trudy Thornton) defeating Leica Lady at Matamata today.

Georgethefifth (Trudy Thornton) defeating Leica Lady at Matamata today.

Thornton got an even bigger kick out of Georgethefifth’s win, having had a bit more experience with the horse.

“He’s a horse I really like,” said Thornton. “He’s a big, green boy and he struggled in the ground. He was really labouring in it so it was a very brave effort.

“I had a big question mark about this ground but he’s got a lot of heart and Anne does an amazing job with them. She had him fit for the task.”

Georgethefifth was three-wide in third spot with 800 metres to run and being pushed along across the top stretch by Thornton to be in a challenging position wide on the home turn. Though lugging in over the final stages, he refused to give in and got home by a long head from fellow Cambridge galloper Leica Lady (trained by Frank Ritchie).

Herbert was very pleased with Georgethefifth’s performance.

“I’m really happy with him,” she said. “He’s always looked like he’s better than average. Things just haven’t gone right. He’s slow-maturing but it was a really good effort today.

“He’s done it and can only improve.”