THE JOCKEY CLUB - WINCANTON RACECOURSE - National victory at Wincanton
The stands may have been empty but the cheers of elation from trainer Polly Gundry rang around Wincanton as the gallant veteran rolled back the years to add to his two Devon National victories at Exeter in the 3m 2 1/2f contest.
Working his way steadily into the race the 13-2 shot was timed to make his challenge by Millie Wonnacott on the run to the last, which he jumped almost as one with eventual runner-up The Kings Writ, before forging clear late on to score by three quarters of a length.
Gundry, who also joint-owns Dawson City, said:
“When I declared him at Plumpton last time it was heavy. They declared it soft and by the time we got there they still called it soft but it was good to soft, good in places.
"They went like the wind and he was like 'this is as fast as I go'. I thought he still wanted to do it and in the right situation when they go a good clip in soft ground he can still do it.
“I shouted so much, and hopped up and down so much that I saw stars! I rang my co-owner Kim Franklin and she was in floods of tears watching.”
Dawson City will now bid to add to his 2018 and 2019 victories in the Devon National Handicap Chase at Exeter on February 26th according to Gundry.
“This was a prep run for the Devon National, which he has won twice. That is the 26th February which is perfect timing for him.
"It would be good for him to run well in it again at the age of 12. Three miles six is more his cup of tea and he does like Exeter."
Gundry, who trains at Ottery St Mary in neighbouring Devon, heaped plenty of praise on winning rider Woonacott.
“He really enjoyed it and appreciated Millie. She just keeps her weight back a bit and he felt a bit in charge of her. She did a wonderful job, kept him on fresher ground and kept him out of trouble and her seven pounds claim helped enormously. It was a very good balanced ride.”
As for Wonnacott the victory had an added significance, with it being her first at the Somerset track at the 11th attempt.
“He has given me a fantastic spin. We went a good gallop and that suited him as he wants the best part of three and a half miles.
“He just enjoyed it the whole way round. There are not many 12 year olds that enjoy the game as much as he does. As soon as they started slowing down he kept finding more and more. It is not every day you get to ride a horse like him.
“I’ve ridden around here plenty of times and I’ve never quite got there so it is great to finally have a winner here."