Veteran trainer John Gilmore will take his evergreen stayer Happy Go Plucky to the Grafton Cup on Thursday as he looks to go wherever Joe Pride’s Stockman isn’t.
The 73-year-old concedes training is a “young man’s game” these days but says he still gets the thrill out of seeing his horses win.
The Gold Coast trainer has had winners in Macau, China and Inner Mongolia but it is the 2019 Grafton Cup that still gets to him where he is adamant Happy Go Plucky should have won the race, had it not been for an unlucky trip in running.
“I should have won the race two years ago, I didn’t have much luck,” he says.
“He ran sixth and got beat three lengths, just have a look at the replay, I won’t be able to tell you enough about it, you’ll know yourself.
“People say he’s seven and he’s not up to it anymore but they don’t know what we do with him, he goes to the beach and we give him a week or two off here and there and he comes back like a two-year-old.
“He will do his job in this race, if he gets beat, he’ll be beat fair and square.”
After two hip operations, Gilmore said he was ready to give the training business away but it was the work of his son Corey that kept him involved.
John Gilmore after winning the Ipswich Cup with Happy Go Plucky. Picture: Grant Peters/Trackside Photography.Source:Supplied
While he was in hospital, it was Corey that kept the show running and as the half-owner of Happy Go Plucky, John says his Ipswich Cup victory last month was made even sweeter.
“It meant a lot to me because my son owns half of it,” he said. “He comes down every morning and I wouldn’t be doing it without him.
“I virtually came out of retirement to get back into it. I had two hip operations, the first one gave way when I tried to do too much too quickly so I ended up back in hospital in intensive care and lost a lot of blood – that was six months ago.
“My son has been going to the races and has been doing a marvellous job.
“I only have five in work and that is enough. I am 73 now and it is a young man’s game this horse business. Corey does all the admin stuff and I keep my eye on the horses, I think if you have 10 horses, it is like having 10 children – they are all different.”
While he was set to square off with Stockman in the Caloundra Cup last Saturday, Gilmore said the washed out meeting gave him an opportunity to change plans to Grafton.
With trainer Joe Pride confirming he will stick to the Caloundra Cup with Stockman, it made Gilmore’s decision easy.
“It was going to be dependent on that thing of Joe Pride’s, Stockman, I think he ticks a lot of boxes,” he said.
“He is by Tavistock, he has won over the distance won in Sydney and done a whole heap of other things so you’d be a fool to disregard him.
“It is going to the Sunny Coast so I will go to Grafton. Stephanie Thornton will ride him again.”
Originally published asPlucky Gilmore looks for Grafton Cup redemption
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