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Gutsy Gottardo Gets Up Late!

Sat 16 March 2019

Gottardo was delivered with an expertly-timed challenge by Sophie Smith to win division two of the six-furlong amateur handicap at Chelmsford yesterday evening. In doing so he provided La Grange Stables with a third victory of the year, and completed a good day’s work following Maqaadeer’s promising second at Lingfield earlier in the afternoon.

Sourced at the Tattersalls Autumn HIT sales last year, Gottardo was originally trained by Fozzy Stack, for whom he won over five-furlongs at Dundalk. His form tailed off a little towards the end of last season, so he was allotted a lenient-looking mark of 69 from which he would commence his career in Britain.

He had been pleasing in his work of late, but there was still a lingering doubt in our minds as to whether he was quite ready for the race, and when he drew stall one, we knew that his pilot was in for a new experience. This was Sophie’s first ride around Chelmsford, first ride in public on Gottardo, and even her first in a sprint!

Typically for an amateur contest, they went like the clappers, and a blistering mid-race move by National Glory, who was lit up by first time blinkers, spread the field by halfway. Gottardo had broken reasonably well by his standards, but still found himself some way off the pace at this point and hemmed in on the rail. The temptation for Sophie to get after him early and/or divert herself out wide for a clear passage must have been enormous, but she kept her cool. They found a gap shortly after turning for home and Gottardo was gathered up for a late surge. Even entering the final furlong their prospects of getting up seemed hopeless, but Sophie managed to split rivals inside the final yards and put Gottardo’s head in front on the post.

The winning margin was only a head, so hopefully the handicapper cannot take too much punitive action, and there should be plenty more improvement to come from the four-year-old son of Choisir.   

The rider was taking her tally on the flat to an eyecatching 3 winners from 11 rides, a record that improves to 3 from 8 when riding for La Grange, and this victory was notable for being her first success in the Boss’s personal colours. The progress Sophie continues to make in the saddle is plain for all to see, and hopefully this victory will alert more trainers to her prowess and lead to an increased number of opportunities in the near future.


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