Great Day For Matthew Gillies

Cambridge jumps jockey Matthew Gillies stole the show at Ellerslie on Saturday.
The hard working hoop experienced the greatest day of his career when winning the Great Northern “double”.
In doing so, Gillies became the first jockey to win both races in the same day.
“As a jumps jockey, these are the races you dream about winning, but to achieve it is quite unbelievable” Gillies modestly claimed afterwards.
Gillies won the Hurdles aboard Southern Countess and then teamed up with Ima Heroine for a memorable Steeplechase victory.
It was a “double /double” for the pair, who were successful at the lead up Pakuranga Hunt meeting, a fortnight ago.
“Obviously both horses were definite chances after their last start wins, but to actually do it is something else” said Gillies.
Southern Countess gave a polished display of front running jumping when winning the MeadowFresh Great Northern Hurdles.
The Stark South mare was always travelling well for Gillies and looked set for victory a fair way from home.
“With 600m to go I could hear the others all scrubbing to keep up and she was just bolting” said Gillies.
Southern Countess easily staved off nearest rival Seeking The Silver, winning by four and a half lengths.
Third, a further nine and a half lengths away, was Solid Steal.
Trained by Peter Brosnan at Matamata, Southern Countess won too well to offer any excuses for the others.
So did Ima Heroine in the Rodd and Gunn Great Northern Steeplechase.
Carrying the famous Browne racing silks that have dominated the great race for the last three decades, Ima Heroine produced an irresistable finishing burst.
From a seemingly hopeless position with 600m to run, Ima Heroine flashed home to win from Myths and Legends.
In third place was Hypnotize…….more about him later.
Gillies was still shaking his head in disbelief long after the victory.
“Honestly, I thought she was no hope after climbing the Hill the last time…..she simply couldn’t win” said Gillies.
However after jumping the last of the 25 fences, Ima Heroine again produced an amazing finishing sprint to overhaul the leader Fair King.
The Ann Browne trained mare became the 11th winner of the race for the Browne stable.
“She’s a tiny wee thing but she tries real hard” said Ann Browne later.
The real star of the day though was Gillies.
I’ve often said Jumps Jockeys, by nature, have to be amongst the bravest and toughest of all professional sportsmen and women.
A decent dollop of insanity goes a long way too methinks!
The highs and lows for Jumps Jockeys are seemingly constant bedfellows.
And  Matthew Gillies is further proof of that.
Last Wednesday, Gillies was sent sprawling into the turf at Paeroa when dislodged from his mount Tallentire in a minor steeplechase.
He eventually got to his feet, although a “very sore” wrist gave him considerable concern.
To put that into perspective, most people would have had that wrist soon in plaster.
Not if you are a Jumps Jockey though, especially with the Great Northerns only three days away.
“I rode at Waverley the next day, even though the wrist was hurting like hell….I didn’t want anyone questioning my fitness to ride” said Gillies.
No one was questioning Gillies after two wonderfully judged rides on Saturday.
Congratulations!
 
As promised earlier, now  on to Hypnotize.
Seeking to become the first horse to win four Great Northerns, Hypnotize finished third.
I know I declared him two weeks ago in this column as the likely winner, but his effort was simply staggering.
He was that far off them coming to the last fence, he was lonely.
To gather so many of his rivals in over the last 250m, under 71.5kgs, showed what a super horse he is.
He retires as one of the bravest horses I’ve had the pleasure of commentating.
 
Finally, young local apprentice Alex Forbes continues to impress in his fledgling jockey career.
He scored at Ellerslie aboard Kula Sands, again showing maturity beyond his years.
I am looking forward to watching him progress over the next couple of seasons.
 
Catch you next week.
 
Cheers
 
George