Overdue win tinged with sadness

Summer Dale (Viktoria Gatu) charging down the outside to win at Te Awamutu.

Summer Dale (Viktoria Gatu) charging down the outside to win at Te Awamutu.

There was someone special missing when Cambridge trainer Denise Venn gained an overdue win with Summer Dale at Te Awamutu last Saturday.

Venn races the Sandtrap six-year-old with the estate of her late mother, Pauline, who passed away on March 30 this year aged 89.

Though battling ill health at times, Pauline Venn made it to the races whenever possible to cheer on her and her families’ horses and it was great joy to see the smile on the face of the quiet little lady when any of the charges ran a good race.

She was able to celebrate two of Summer Dale’s wins, at Tauranga in September 2014 and a year earlier at Paeroa. Summer Dale was ridden in that maiden win by Sam Collett and in her Tauranga triumph Vikotoria Gatu was the winning jockey.

Denise Venn has a lifetime of racing knowledge and potters around with a few horses at a time. She currently has two horses in racing trim and the second of those, Lucky Boy will be in action at Te Rapa tomorrow in the Print House 1200.

Lucky Boy is raced by his trainer, her brother Bernard, and the estate of their late mother and with seven placings from 13 starts he has shown enough promise to give the Venn family a chance to complete a memorable day.

Lucky Boy’s placings include a third to the talented El Pescado at Te Rapa, a couple of seconds and a couple of thirds at Waipa plus two thirds in his last four starts.

He resumed with a promising third at Matamata on June 1 then disappointed when beating just one home at Tauranga on a bottomless track 23 days later.

“I had his leg bandaged but he cut it just above the bandage,” said Denise Venn. “He just didn’t handle it at all at Tauranga.

“I’m hoping the ground at Te Rapa will be better. He’s very well.”

Lucky Boy will be ridden by the in-form Gatu, who picked up four wins last weekend. Gatu has an excellent record on Lucky Boy, her five rides on the Perfectly Ready gelding resulting in two seconds and two thirds.

She has also fashioned a good strike rate on Summer Dale with the two wins and four placings from 10 rides. Only twice has she failed to weigh in on him.

“Viktoria has ridden well for me,” said Venn. “Dad (successful trainer Graham Venn) used to give the young apprentices a go, the lesser ones at the time like Jock Caddigan and Peter Fearon, and we’re always believed in trying to help the young ones.”

Summer Dale had provided Venn with her last win when scoring at Tauranga in September 2014 and, though, he didn’t show his real potential after that win Venn never lost faith in him.

“He wasn’t a happy horse at all,” said Venn. “He didn’t want to go on the float or go to the races. We just gave him a big break and he’s come back to his old self.”

Summer Dale was fresh-up when winning at Te Awamutu and Venn says the win was a pleasant surprise. But such was the eye catching late burst from Summer Dale in the last 200 metres he won in the manner of a horse destined for more success.

Waiting in the wings is Summer Dale’s half-brother by Brilliance so there’s hope in the camp for more celebrations.