Barrier’s a worry but goes quick.
That was the pre-race assessment of Brett Thompson’s classy four-year-old mare I’m Imogen in the lead-up to the JT Fossey Benchmark 70 Handicap at Tamworth on Tuesday and as it turns out that dodgy gate 11 wasn’t that big of a worry.
A star of Thompson’s Gulgong stables, I’m Imogen cruised to victory in the 1000 metre dash to pocket the bulk of the $20,000 purse and raise her standing as one of the district’s best sprinters.
The two-length victory was I’m Imogen’s first run since a third at Gosford at the end of March and jockey Alena Skerritt ensured it was an impressive return at that.
The bay mare started second favourite at $3.50 and justified the odds when she shaded the early leader Navajo Chief ($8.50) rounding the straight before holding it together over the length of the home run to cruise to victory.
The top weight and early $3.30 favourite out of the Clint Lundholm stables at Dubbo, Joey’s Destiny was an impressive second after sitting back at the gates, storming to a place having sat back four and five deep before being forced wide.
Tully Ho ($51) ran three lengths back in third but the race belonged to Thompson’s mare, a controlled and impressive run to sixth career win.
Thompson was pleased with the return of his star mare after he had originally targeted her for the Provincial Championship only to have that move blocked by stewards.
“I blew up when she wasn’t allowed in the country provincial race at Newcastle. I spoke to the stewards and because she went into a highway that stopped her,” he said.
“Alena’s riding her a treat, too. She gets her out of the gates well.”
The young apprentice hoop said her plan was just to keep I’m Imogen “ticking along”.
“And then you go up the gears and away she goes,” Skerritt said.
“I almost won an apprentice race with her in town so I know her pretty well.”