Gillies hoping for another memorable day

Cambridge jumps jockey Matthew Gillies will be hoping for a repeat of 12 months ago when he gets to Ellerslie tomorrow.

Gillies landed the Tony Richards Toyota Hurdles on Southern Countess at the corresponding meeting last year and also picked up the main prize, the Pakuranga Hunt Cup, on Ima Heroine.

A couple of weeks later Gillies wrote his name into the jumps racing history books when he successfully combined with the same two horses to take the Great Northern Hurdles-Steeplechase double.

Now a year later Gillies will head to Ellerslie to ride the same two horses in the same races and in the case of Southern Countess the pair will be trying to win the Tony Richards Toyota Hurdles for the third year in succession.

Southern Countess has had only one jumps start since her Northern win and that was in the Awapuni Hurdles, in which she was seventh of nine starters. She has been kept to the flat since and has run encouraging races, the latest effort being an eighth in a Rating 65 2100 metres at Te Rapa last Saturday.

Gillies put both Southern Countess and Ima Heroine through their work early this week and was happy with the guide he got from both horses.

”I schooled Ima Heroine at Mrs Browne’s place last Monday and she went well,” said Gillies. “It was a chance to get her eye in and Mrs Browne wanted to see her jump lower. Mrs Browne has done a lot of hill work with her since Trentham and she’s happy with her.”

Ima Heroine lost Gillies at an early fence in a Trentham steeplechase last start, but the rider is happy with her improvement and is expecting a bold effort tomorrow. “She only really likes Ellerslie,” he said.

A day after working Ima Heroine, Gillies was at Matamata to school Southern Countess. “She worked over a couple of rounds then I jumped her over a couple of fences,” said Gillies. “She felt good. I’m pretty confident she’ll run a good race.”