Rank outsider’s debut win

The racing industry has always been littered with ‘feel good’ stories, and another one emerged when owner-trainer Mark Ashby produced his previously unraced two-year-old filly Geraldine’s Jewel to win a 1200 metre event at Sandown last Wednesday.
Listed as a Kyneton-based trainer, Ashby and Geraldine’s Jewel share a special affinity on a small property at Trentham, and it was an impressive jump-out gallop at Kyneton on March 21 that reinforced Ashby’s confidence he had a galloper with plenty of ability.
“I’m a one-on-one trainer, and can devote heaps of time to my horses,” Ashby said.
Ridden by experienced Kilmore-based Jason Baldock, Geraldine’s Jewel was the rank outsider of the Sandown field, at a starting price of $61.
For much of the race the filly raced in second place, and fought on strongly in the straight to win narrowly, leaving most racegoers (but not Ashby) stunned.
Ashby paid just $5500 for the well-bred filly by Helmet from Katherine Gold at last year’s Vobis Gold sale, and is aiming high after last week’s win.
He expects Geraldine’s Jewel (named after his 82-year-old mum) will have her next start in The Showdown, a $1 million dollar race for fillies over 1200m at Caulfield on April 27.
“Being a city winner, she should get a run…you have to take every opportunity that comes your way.
“She’s a nice horse, and should only get better. I’m confident she will run a middle distance at least when she matures.”
Ashby said the two-year-old had shown she could already out sprint his good five-year-old A Moving Place, who has earned more than $86,000 in prizemoney from 28 starts, including four wins, the latest at Yarra Glen in mid-March.
“When Mick Sell (long-time Kyneton trainer) broke the filly in he said she has plenty of ability.”
Ashby, aged 59, has had a long interest in horses since an early age, being the eldest of a large family growing up not far from Caulfield racecourse.
The family moved to Sale and his father Ian decided to train and his first galloper, a Star Kingdom colt called Vapour Star, won on debut at the old Bairnsdale racecourse.
One ride, one win!
Mark laughs when he recalls his very short career as a jockey.
He had one race ride only, as a 15-year-old, and won on Bronze Otto at Pakenham.
“That’s a 100 per cent strike record, better than most,” he quipped.
A brother, Kane, was a top apprentice and jockey in Gippsland and rode nearly 300 winners before increasing weight led to his retirement from the saddle, although he stayed in the industry.
Most of the Ashby family members now reside in northern New South Wales or Queensland, and they are showing plenty of interest in the fortunes of Geraldine’s Jewel.

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