MONDAY: December 11, 2023: JAMES Ponsonby is a big fan of BOBS Extra – and it’s easy to see why!The Hawkesbury trainer continued an excellent first half of the season with his ninth winner today; and the $5625 bonus made the trip to Orange that much more worthwhile.
Instead of picking up the normal country first prize of $13,950, Ponsonby’s Will To Excel ($2.15 favorite) earned $19,575 – just $1000 short of normal provincial first prizemoney.
Ponsonby noticed nominations had been extended for the Benchmark 58 Handicap (2100m), and decided to throw in a late nomination for the eight-year-old gelding, who had raced over 38500m at Moonee Valley and 4065m at Warrnambool at his previous two starts.
“It was a pretty hectic week going to and from Warrnambool a couple of times for the Jericho Cup meeting yesterday week,” he said.
“Will To Excel ran well when fourth in the Consolation, and I gave him a few easy days when he got home.
“He actually picked up better than when he went to The Valley for his previous start and, when I cantered him on the Polytrack at Hawkesbury on Saturday morning, he felt ready to go again.
“It wasn’t a strong race and picking up almost provincial prizemoney certainly made it worthwhile going to Orange even though he was coming back a lot in distance.”
Patiently ridden by Mathew Cahill, Will To Excel burst through when the cutaway rail arrived, and quickly put paid to his rivals, scoring by more than two and a half lengths from second favorite Our City ($2.50).
This was the third BOBS Extra Ponsonby has collected with Will To Excel, adding nearly $17,000 to his prizemoney.
“After the two and three-year-old BOBS bonuses, this is a great incentive for connections of eligible horses who can run 1800m and further,” Ponsonby said.
“I bought Will To Excel online as a six-year-old, and he was still a bit immature.
“But he won two in a row at Orange and Wagga over 2100m and 3200m at his third and fourth starts for us.”
“It has taken him two years to win again, so it was great to get this result.
“Will To Excel has a great constitution and great attitude.
“All going well, we will head back to Orange for a Benchmark 66 Handicap over the same 2100m distance on December 28.”
. HOOFNOTE: Mathew Cahill also was the rider in Will To Excel’s first win for Ponsonby on October 19, 2021 at Orange in the same class and at the same distance (2100m) as his latest victory – and also when he scored again at Wagga over 3200m 10 days later.