Old friendship rekindled as frontrunner salutes

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The Dave Heywood-trained Who’s Paying ($10) upstaged short-priced favourite Unscrupulous ($2.70) to take out the feature race at Albury yesterday. Ridden by Goulburn jockey Richard Bensley, Who’s Paying kicked back strongly over the final stages after being headed at the 100-metre mark. It was the five-year-old gelding’s first win this preparation after resuming with a third in the Flat Knacker during the Albury Gold Cup carnival. Who’s Paying was unplaced in the Wagga Town Plate at his most recent start.

COROWA trainer Mandie Jones and former stable jockey Shirley Hunter reunited at Albury yesterday to score with promising sprinter Kudagilla.

Hunter was the regular stable rider for Jones before relocating to Benalla several years ago.

She produced a clever frontrunning ride to lead all the way and justify her decision to make the trek to Albury for one ride.

Jones was thrilled to land a winner with her close friend.

“It was a huge thrill for us because Shirley hadn’t ridden for me for a while and used to ride all of my horses,” Jones said.

“It was her first ride on the horse and she rode him a treat.

“Nick Souquet usually rides him but is sidelined at the moment with a broken thumb so I thought why not throw Shirl on because we have been friends for years.”

Kudagilla ($5) showed his customary dash to cross the field and lead from barrier six.

Pink Jubilee ($4.80 fav) and Armona ($8) — who dead-heated for second — loomed up over the final 100 metres.

But Kudagilla showed plenty of fight over the concluding stages when challenged to score by a neck.

The four-year-old is building a handy record, with three wins and three placings in 10 starts.

While Kudagilla’s best form is over sprint trips up to 1000 metres, Jones expects the son of Churchill Downs to run a strong 1200 metres when he fully matures.

“He is a nice little horse in the making,” she said.

“Even though he is a four-year-old he is still quite immature.

“He still needs to learn to settle in his races and is quick out of the gates.

“At the moment I’m happy with him just to run over 1000 metres, but hopefully in time he will get over 1200 metres.

“The most pleasing thing about the run was the fight he showed over the last 100 metres when challenged.”

Jones said she was keen to keep Kudagilla racing over the winter months because of his ability to handle rain-affected going.

Female jockeys won three of the eight races after Albury jockey Amanda Masters combined with local trainer Pat Widdup to score aboard Lady Henrietta ($9) in the opening race.

Wangaratta apprentice Brooke Sweeney joined forces with her father, Jerilderie trainer Phil Sweeney, to record a victory aboard Ruby Diamonds ($12).

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