When Dominica surged to a clinical win in the Cactus Wilson Memorial at Quirindi on Boxing Day, Geoff O’Brien finally achieved the result he had long desired – claiming the race named after his late mate.
Tony “Cactus” Wilson was a huge help to O’Brien before he started training at Quirindi, and was based at Blandford.
O’Brien said Wilson was “a good bloke” who “trained a few” horses and “rode all his own work”.
So when the Quirindi Jockey Club named a memorial race in honour of Cactus, O’Brien thought he’d better win one. “I’d give my left arm to win one,” he said pre-race.
However, O’Brien has a small stable and never previously had a horse ready or going well enough for the race. But that changed on Wednesday, when he entered two horses in the race.
Mahlia was unplaced, while Dominica kicked home strongly to win by two-and-a-quarter lengths. “That was enormous first up,” a smiling O’Brien said of the win.
Dominica had won over 1750m at Muswellbrook on August 5 before being spelling. O’Brien believes that stayers can run well first up.
So where to for the horse now? “Maybe 1400m somewhere,” O’Brien said.
Dominica was ridden by apprentice Wendy Peel, who had earlier ridden Manabar to victory at the Wednesday meeting. Peel has 47 career wins.
Born in Scone but hailing from Spring Ridge, she has had a good run lately. The 26-year-old also had a double at Dubbo (her favourite track) and a treble at Armidale.
“It has been a good time for me,” she said.
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