AS a footballer, Ashley Gilbert was a tough-as-teak back-rower with the Canberra Raiders back in their glory days of the late 1980s.
Yesterday at Narromine, Gilbert showed a softer side after his gelding Zarhron showed blistering speed to win the Orana Mutual Maiden Plate (800m).
The three-year-old Zariz x Zahbowe gelding was bred by Gilbert and his father Ron, who passed away earlier this year, and the win had enormous sentimental value for the 135-game Raider, now living in Crookwell.
Trained at Cowra by Andrew Molloy and with Adam Gain in the saddle, Zarhron ($4.00) showed great speed from start to finish, beating Socks The Fox ($1.50 fav, Greg Ryan) by five lengths with Shakit All ($12.00, Ken Dunbar) a further two lengths away in third place.
“My father was in the racing game for a long time we bred a few horses together and have had a bit of luck with them,” Gilbert said.
“Unfortunately dad passed away four months ago but he would have loved to see this today.
“This horse is bred to show some speed and Andrew had told me that he was working well so we were confident coming here today and it’s just a great result for us.”
Gain, who rode Zarhron in a barrier trial in June of this year, said the horse has improved greatly since then and predicted more wins are in store in the future.
“It’s been a while since I’ve ridden a horse that went as quick as he did today,” Gain said.
“I trialled him at Goulburn a few months back and it was a nice enough trial but he just needed some time.
“He was a completely different horse today to the one I trialled.
“He’s a lot better than I thought he was.
“He led them easily enough but at the top of the straight he got a bit lost but I gave him a couple of cracks and he picked up again so it was a good effort.”
While beaten, the run of the favourite Socks The Fox was still full of merit and with two starts under his belt, the son of Excites raced like a horse looking for a longer trip.