River Street wins from deep
BALLINA trainer Andrew Pilling is celebrating his Conange and Associates Men of League Cup (1410m) win after his horse River Street streaked home at the Ballina Jockey Club TAB meeting on Saturday.
“It was a good surprise,” Pilling said. “You can only be happy about it really.”
Pilling said when jockey Emily Kehoe knew she would be held three-deep unless she pushed the seven-year-old further to the front than he usually sits, she took advantage of an opportune opening.
It was then that Pilling knew he was in with a good chance of winning.
“Emily summed the race up, and was going to be caught three wide, she surged forward and got into the perfect position,” Pilling said.
“She’s a clever little rider and River Street just doesn’t stop. I knew he just had to win then.”
And win he did, by one length in front of Montana Hilton with Flood Hero third, meaning Pilling secured the $9000 prizemoney and the rest of the family took home some winnings after betting on the ‘tough old horse’.
Unfortunately, it won’t buy Pilling a holiday somewhere tropical and will ‘just go into maintenance’ instead.
“It’s always handy because it’s a tough business,” Pilling said.
“It’s hard to win races and you always hope it comes along.”
Pilling was over the moon about the win, and said Kehoe was too.
“I think she was very happy,” he said. “She likes the horse himself and he is a pretty likeable old horse. He’s pretty genuine.”
Having also won the Casino and Bangalow cups and run second in the Byron Bay Cup, River Street will now take a well-earned break, enjoying plenty of swimming and grazing.
“His legs are pretty weary and it’s a difficult situation with the horses where the longer the break they have the harder it is for the older horses to get back into racing and fitness training,” Pilling said.
“He has another good 12 months in him so we’re not going to punish him when he’s been good to us so he’ll certainly have a break for a couple of weeks to a month.”
Ballina Jockey Club chief executive officer Sarah Wills said the Men of League charity race day was a ‘very good day’.
“It was a very good crowd, it was a great day of racing and the turnover was good,” she said.
While the ‘figures haven’t been done yet’, Wills said the Men of League marquee was full of punters.
“They will definitely be back next year,” she said.
“It’s their race day every year and it was a very successful day for them.”