From the Commentary Box – Monday, 16th June 2014

Training six winners on a race day is usually enough to hog the limelight. But not this time.

Riding four winners on a race day is also usually enough to get the odd write up or two.

Again not this time though.

Both of these reasonably rare occurrences happened last Saturday at Ruakaka.

Local Ruakaka training combination of Donna and Dean Logan ruled supreme with a career best six win haul last Saturday.

The partnership prepared Candle In The Wind, Rocknroller, To Be Sure, Uncle Shayne, King Zeus and Big Voices to victories on their home track.

Meanwhile, jockey Danielle Johnson was quietly going about her business of kicking home winners, eventually finishing the day with four successes.

As I mentioned earlier, both of these achievements would be enough to grab the headlines.

However, as meritorious as both achievements were, I believe they were overshadowed by the win of the Ben Foote trained, Illuminati.

It was a nice enough win by Illuminati but it wasn’t a remarkable victory.

It wasn’t an overcome – all – odds – to – win type of victory.

No, it was the fact that Illuminati was ridden to victory by one of the toughest, most courageous athletes I have ever seen, Trudy Thornton.

The Cambridge based rider was greeted by a standing ovation from the good sized crowd at Ruakaka on Saturday as she returned to scale.

In case you were holidaying on Mars and were unaware of the significance of the success, I will explain.

Nearly four months ago, Thornton was involved in a nasty fall aboard Table One at Ellerslie.

When travelling outside the leader, Table One dislodged Thornton as the field swung into the back straight.

Several of the runners clipped Thornton on the way past.

The injuries she sustained in the fall were enough to make John Rambo cry.

Shattered bits and pieces throughout her body and bones pointed in directions which most thought were impossible.

I think you get my drift.

I remember seeing a photo of Thornton in her hospital bed a few days after the accident.

It looked like she had been in a scrap with Mike Tyson and had run a distant second!

In the accompanying article Thornton was quoted as saying she would return to race day riding as soon as she could.

Again I remember thinking to myself, not this time Trudy.

At the very least I thought it would take her a year to recover from her injuries and then to work her way back to race day fitness.

Imagine my surprise when I saw Thornton at a race meeting at Te Aroha about a month ago.

Here she was walking around and happily chatting away to everyone and telling all and sundry she was looking to get back to riding in a few weeks.

Which brings us back to last Saturday.

In her first day of riding since that horrific accident, Thornton nearly made it the dream comeback result.

In her first ride back, Thornton looked destined to win when she brought her mount Uncle Sugar with what looked like a winning run.

Unfortunately Guru Girl, ridden by Danielle Johnson stormed home from last to pip Uncle Sugar and Thornton on the post.

After several further rides, Thornton guided Illuminati to that memorable victory in race six.

Throughout her career, Thornton has battled to gain the recognition she so richly deserves.

She is one of the most versatile jockeys I have seen and undoubtedly one of the toughest.

She is a fearless and fiercely competitive jockey who I’m sure got a few more admirers last Saturday.

You go Trudy !!


I’ll catch you next week.