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  • Writer's pictureJohn Curtis


Image: Bradley Photos

MONDAY: June 5, 2023: JAMES Ponsonby’s hopes of a good trot from his new base at Hawkesbury got off to an ideal start at Bathurst today.

The former harness racing devotee won the Class 1/Maiden Plate (2000m) with Tour Of Duty ($9), and was especially pleased to do so for the gelding’s owner Justin Abbott.

“Justin and myself have been good friends for a long time, and this is the first horse we have raced together,” Ponsonby said.

“We bought Tour Of Duty online in December 2021 for $40,000 after he had done his earlier racing in Victoria.

“He has been a luckless type of horse, and I’m sure the firmer track today had a lot to do with him winning his first race for us.

“His last few runs have been on either soft or heavy ground.”

Ridden by Mikayla Weir, five-year-old Hinchinbrook gelding Tour Of Duty made the home turn the widest but still outgamed $2.60 favorite El Bravo.

Ponsonby is delighted to have set up shop at Hawkesbury after recently relocating from Orange.

“I moved to Orange to hold a country licence, but it was really difficult,” he explained.

“Things didn’t work out, and I missed my family.

“It’s terrific to have this opportunity to train at a provincial track, and the family is back together again.

“We’re close to the city, and Hawkesbury is a great facility.”

Ponsonby extended his appreciation to Hawkesbury boss James Heddo, Trainers’ Association CEO Richard Callander and RacingNSW chief operating officer Graeme Hinton.

“Without their support, this would not have been possible.”

Ponsonby has 15 boxes at Hawkesbury, and presently is working 13 horses.

“We’ve got a bit of leeway there, and I expect to have Saturday runners in town in the next few weeks.”

Ponsonby also has stable newcomer Field Legend resuming in a Benchmark 72 Handicap (1550m) at Canterbury on Wednesday, and Rachel King will ride.

The four-year-old’s two career wins have both been at Canterbury for his previous trainer Chris Waller, in November last year and February. He was sold online for $25,000 after failing at that track on February 10, when stewards placed an embargo on him for poor performance.

That was subsequently lifted after he trialled for Ponsonby at Canterbury on May 5.

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