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  • Writer's pictureJohn Curtis


THURSDAY: July 13, 2023: JAMES Ponsonby celebrated his first provincial victory today from his new base at Hawkesbury – and hopes to “strike while the iron’s hot” with the same horse again next week.

A recent welcome addition to the list of trainers at Hawkesbury, Ponsonby landed the Maiden Plate (1600m) at Gosford with Sonny Fella ($8).

Jockey Koby Jennings put the Choisir three-year-old on the pace and, in a Hawkesbury quinella result, he was strongest to the post to defeat Karen Outtrim’s $41 outsider Mr Luke.

Ponsonby purchased Sonny Fella at the 2021 Inglis Ready2Race sale in Sydney for $32,500. He is the first foal of the Star Witness mare Star Suite, who trialled three times in Brisbane in early 2018 but never made it to the races.

It has taken Sonny Fella 14 starts to break through, but his trainer never lost faith.

“He was very tall and gangly when I bought him, and it’s been a slow process,” Ponsonby explained this evening.

“Sonny Fella is getting better every time he goes to the races, and he was better today than at Wyong just over a week ago when a close second in a 3YO Maiden over the same distance.”

Ponsonby is rapt with his new digs at Hawkesbury after recently relocating from Orange, and says both his family and his horses are enjoying their new surroundings.

‘The family is happy, and the set-up is fantastic,” he said.

“The property adjoins the racecourse, and has some paddocks where the horses go out into in groups of two and three when they have finished their morning trackwork.

“Sonny Fella and the other horse (Pine Valley, who finished seventh in the same race) went out into one of the paddocks when we got home, and were picking grass.

“It definitely helps them relax.”

Ponsonby has another race in mind for Sonny Fella – and it’s back at Gosford on Saturday week.

“There is a Class 1 Handicap over 1600m there on Saturday week,” he said. “He was also placed there in a 1600m Maiden in late May, so why not go back to Gosford provided he does well in the meantime?”

Ponsonby won his first race from his new base, with Tour Of Duty at Bathurst on June 5, and has his dual city winner Philipsburg (Jenny Duggan) engaged at Royal Randwick on Saturday in a Benchmark 78 Handicap (1600m) at his fourth run back from a break, along with several runners at the corresponding provincial meeting at Wyong.

. Sonny Fella’s victory took to 192 the number of winners trained out of Hawkesbury so far this season.

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