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  • Writer's pictureJohn Curtis


AUGUST 8, 2023: HAVING a racehorse is not necessarily a walk up start to winning a nice chunk of prizemoney!

But James Ponsonby couldn’t have said it better when he spoke about the excellent booty available in New South Wales after his racehorse Walk Up Start broke through at Gundagai today at his 23rd start – and 18th for him.

The Hawkesbury trainer has trekked far and wide to win a race with the former Victorian gelding - and was understandably pleased to finally achieve it.

Walk Up Start ($3.90 favorite) easily took the Maiden Plate (1400m) for colts, geldings and entires, lifting his career earnings to just over $60,000 – and nearly $54,000 since his trainer bought him online in June last year.

“He was one of the dear ones I bought; he cost $3250,” Ponsonby said, tongue in cheek, en route home.

“Walk Up Start had been placed six times since we got him, and it just shows the good state New South Wales racing is in that he has been able to win more than $50,000 for us.

“You always want to win races of course, and he has been unlucky a couple of times not to break through before today.

“Walk Up Start was runner-up in one of those Country Boosted Maidens (worth $35,000) at Moruya, in March, and narrowly beaten in an Albury Maiden in April.”

A Kilmore placegetter in May last year at his third start for his previous trainer Wendy Kelly, Walk Up Start was put on the market after finishing down the course in a Donald Maiden Plate (1620m) the following month.

Under Ponsonby’s care, he chalked up placings at Wyong, Queanbeyan (twice), Moruya, Orange and Albury.

After having his last six starts on the provincial circuit, Walk Up Start went back to country grade today, and was aided by a faultless Mathew Cahill ride.

“Mathew got him rolling along nicely and into a good position, and when he moved up three wide approaching the turn, I thought he must have felt he was travelling pretty well,” Ponsonby said.

“It was good to see the horse put them away over the closing stages.”

Ponsonby took three horses – all online buys – to the Gundagai meeting, and nearly clinched a double.

Eight-year-old High Chaparral gelding Will To Excel ($26) came from well back to finish a close second to Cracker Dance ($10) in the Benchmark 58 Handicap (1800m).

“Two winners would have been nice, but we’ll take the one,” Ponsonby said.

That winner is wholly owned by the trainer’s wife Keryn, and it was also the couple’s son Sebastian’s 9th birthday, meaning Ponsonby had to “hotfoot” his way back for the celebrations.

But it was a fair drive home, and definitely not a walk up start!

. Jason Collett took the riding honours at Hawkesbury’s opening meeting of the season today, clinching a double on Gago ($2.40 favorite) for Chris Waller, and Broadway Bouncer ($3.40) for last season’s Wyong premiership winning trainer Kristen Buchanan.

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