Day At The Track

Here's cheers to a unique family double

07:06 AM 25 May 2020 NZST
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Brooke McPherson
Winning owner-trainer Brooke McPherson with the Wagga Cup, taken out by Rusty Crackers
Wagga Wagga HRC Photo

The regional city of Albury in the NSW Riverina region will become party central after two significant harness racing victories within three days.

"There's no doubt going to be a fair bit of celebrating going on this week, that's for sure," happy-go-lucky reinsman Thomas Gilligan said.

"It's just been a purple patch to remember forever-we all do it on a hobby basis and to have success like this is just so rewarding. It's just unreal," he said.

Gilligan of Table Top, an outer suburb of Albury, landed the biggest win of his career when successful on 40/1 shot Rocky Creed (Pet Rock-Miss Toolern Vale (Bettors Delight) in the TAB Riverina Region G1 $100,000 Championship Final at Wagga on Friday.

To watch the video replay click on this link

And just two days later at the same track, his fiancée Brooke McPherson was the winning owner/trainer of Rusty Crackers (Dawn Ofa New Day-Dilingers Comment (D M Dilinger) in the $9690 Iron Jack Wagga Pacers Cup.

To watch the video replay click on this link

Gilligan said the victories were real family affairs with Brooke's uncle Chris being the trainer of Rocky Creed, while her brother James was the winning driver of Rusty Crackers.

"It was probably a once in a lifetime thing for me. I was just so fortunate to pick up the drive because James wasn't eligible to compete in a Group One-but it all worked out well because he snagged the Wagga Cup!" Gilligan said.

An elated Thomas Gilligan after scoring his first Group One success and biggest win on Rocky Creed  (Wagga Wagga Daily Advertiser Photo)

"It was my first-ever Group one success and yeah I've heard that I'm now known as Group One Gilligan," he said.

"I had a nice run and when I hit the front, I was just going for home. The second horse went well too - it kept kicking and was hanging in there.

"And Rusty Crackers has been great this season. We've won 12 races with him since he joined our stable, including the Temora and Christmas Cups and runner-up in the Griffith Cup."

Brooke said the "musical chairs" on driving engagements was an odd turn of events.

"James was replaced by Thomas in the Group One, but then James came out and won the Wagga Cup for us. It probably shows it's a good thing to have more than one driver in the family!"

Gilligan is a third-generation horseman in the sport, following in the footsteps of his father Shane, and his late grandfather Ron.

"I got my licence when I was 17 and after about 14 drives, I had a break. I went off playing football and doing some other sports," he said.

"I came back and decided over the last nine years to have a real go at it. As well as helping out Brooke, I'm also a farrier by trade now. We all train out of a nice complex where we lease the front stables and paddocks and use the 700m jog track. We do our fastwork in at Albury."

Gilligan said all the McPhersons combined training and racing the horses with full-time employment including nursing, retail, logging and a car rental business.

"Chris has seven in work, while Brooke is doing three or four at the moment. Nearly all of them do shift work, but the horses always get done properly," he said.

"I must be honest and say I'm sort of glad I didn't have a drive at the Wagga Cup meeting because my Group One celebrations started the previous night and we did give it a bit of a nudge, but it was fantastic night.

"We all enjoy doing it and family wins like these are great, but on the back of each other they're pretty special- both horses went super. They've done a top job with them."

Hoofnote: The running of the recent three TAB regional championship finals proved to be a graveyard for punters. The Western Region final at Bathurst on Wednesday saw Terryrama win at 81/1. Three nights later Newcastle hosted the Hunter Region final with 17/1 chance Kanye Crusader land first prize. Then it was Rocky Creeds turn to shine at Wagga at 40/1.

Terry Gange

NewsAlert PR Mildura

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

P 0498 490 672

 

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