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  • Writer's pictureJohn Curtis


TUESDAY: September 19, 2023: HAVE horse, will travel!

Hawkesbury trainer James Ponsonby certainly fits that bill.

He undertook a 13-hour round trip Corowa today with two horses – and won with a recent acquisition who was having his first start for his new stable.

Ponsonby clinched his third winner of the season when Sandastan ($5.50) took the Class 1/Maiden Plate (1600m) after being given the run of the race by internationally-successful jockey Danny Beasley.

Giving him the final leg of his treble (ironically all pick-up rides), Beasley coolly guided Sandastan to a narrow victory over $26 roughie Guided Missile.

Making the victory even better was the fact that Ponsonby’s wife Keryn races the gelding on her own.

The five-year-old former Godolphin gelding began his career with James Cummings and was placed at both Hawkesbury and Newcastle in December 2021 before breaking through later that month on New Year’s Eve at Gosford in a 1600m Maiden Plate.

He subsequently changed hands and raced 17 times for another Sydney stable for two placings, at Canberra and Goulburn.

“We bought him online four weeks ago for $2000,” Ponsonby said as he began the long trek home; always easier with a winner aboard.

“Sandastan had run some nice races in better company.

“I had him in another race a couple of weeks ago, but he drew poorly and we didn’t run.

“This race at Corowa looked really suitable, and I was lucky to be able to pick up such a good rider as Danny (Beasley).”

The $13,950 first prize Sandastan earned more than repaid his purchase price immediately, as well as making the long trip worthwhile.

“I don’t mind the driving at all,” Ponsonby said.

“I did some slow work with our horses at Hawkesbury early in the morning, and headed off about 7.45am as both horses (Sandastan and Walk Up Start) were in later races.

“It was a pretty smooth drive.”

. Ponsonby’s other runner Walk Up Start ($16) finished eighth in the Benchmark 58 Handicap (1300m), but was having his first start since breaking through at Gundagai in early August and was also coming back in distance.

Walk Up Start was his trainer’s first winner of the new season, and then Socrates scored at Gosford on August 24.

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