Brett Cavanough believes Still Undaunted’s future lies as a Country Cups horse after the four-year-old landed the Scone trainer his first Manuka Chaff Wallabadah Cup (1500m) on Monday.
The bay or brown gelding snuck home on the inside by a head from Dale Wagstaff’s Sworn In to win the 166th edition of the historic race.
After a big 2017, with talented sprinter The Monstar named NSW Country Horse of the Year, it gave Cavanough a double for the day and the perfect start to 2018.
“It probably can’t get any better – straight off the bat two wins,” Cavanough said with Avocado winning the opening of the five races.
It was the three-time NSW Leading Country Trainer’s first time at Wallabadah after moving up to Scone last year.
“We like to participate at the community meetings. It’s where I started and it’s the grassroots,” he said.
“Every time I drove past it I couldn’t wait to get here.”
Backing up from a win at Bathurst on December 23, and carrying a big weight, Cavanough’s main instructions to English hoop Billy Cray were to just try and get up the hill without pushing Still Undaunted too hard.
“It was a pretty tenacious win at the end with 62kg,” Cavanough said.
Usually carrying around 58kg it was a step up in weight, and also class.
Cray, who also rode Avocado to celebrate a New Years Day double, was similarly complimentary of the horse.
“The last 200 he actually got headed three times but he braved it out,” he said.
The unique track with it’s 30 degree climb and then downhill run can prove a challenge to first time jockey’s, but didn’t worry Cray.
“I had an advantage. English tracks are all downhill,” Cray told Wallabadah president Bill Kelly.
“There are no flat tracks.”
Cavanough has no firm plans for the gelding, but sees him as a Country Cups horse.
“I think that’s probably where he lies,” he said.
“We took him to town for a couple of races and he didn’t match up.”
The Doporth-Princess Marizza gelding was broken in at Kitchwin Hills and sent to Cavanough two years ago.
Avocado meanwhile will be retired to stud at Widden after winning her first start for Cavanough.
“She’s going to go and be a mum,” he said.
Only her second start, the Grey-Bay filly was a one-and-a-half length winner over Blinkin Heavenly (Stephen Dixon) and Mash ‘N’ Veg (Adam Vine).
Newcastle trainer Phillip Atkins also enjoyed his maiden Wallabadah win, with Yatte Yattah taking out the Penrose Prime Meats Benchmark 45 Handicap ahead of Yours Thruthfully (Rod Hilton) and Cedee Prince (Sue Grills).
Sagan Star won the Country Auctions Maiden Plate for Quirindi trainer Geoff O’Brien from Caishen In (Melanie O’Gorman) and Jay Double You Gee (Todd Howlett) before King of the Creek (Darryl Roberts) romped to a 2.3 length win over Achanizo (Sue Bigg) and Falvina (Kevin Hausfield) in the Wallabadah Jockey Club Benchmark 50 Handicap.