Things couldn’t have been much more perfect for Justin Stanley and Gillie Mooch on Boxing Day.
The Narromine-based trainer saw Gillie Mooch lead all the way to win the Benchmark 58 Handicap (900m) in her first start back from a lengthy six-month spell.
A renowned frontrunner, the track and distance at Wellington was ideal for a first-up Gillie Mooch and Kath Bell-Pitomac did all that was needed to give the mare a seventh career win.
“It was a bit of a worry with her being first-up from a long break but she’s a very speedy horse,” Stanley said.
“She’s won here before and she likes the track so I expected her to go well.”
It was the perfect race for her.Justin Stanley
“It was the perfect race for her. Especially first-up.”
The win was also a sweet one for Bell-Pitomac, who hung on late and got Gillie Mooch ($3) across the line half a length ahead of Northern Conqueror ($8).
Northern Conqueror was ridden by Bell-Pitomac’s husband, Daniel Pitomac.
Gillie Mooch never looked truly threatened after shooting out of barrier three early on.
She led by more than three lengths at one point but the field did make up ground on the runaway leader heading into the straight.
That margin continued to get smaller but Gillie Mooch still had enough to win from the Bob Howe-trained Northern Conqueror, while French Giggle ($3.50) was third.
After the race, Stanley said there is no set plans for his seven-year-old mare. However, there is one thing he will be trying to find.
“I’ve just got to keep looking for the short races for her. She just loves the short course,” the trainer said.
Stanley and Bathurst-based Paul Theobald were the only non-hometown trainers to win at Wellington on Wednesday.
Theobald took out the day’s last event, the Class 1 Handicap (1100m), with his gelding Red Marauder ($2.80 favourite).