Jenny Duggan’s remarkable riding renaissance continues at Royal Randwick on Saturday.
The apprentice and mother-of-three has six rides on the New Year’s Eve program including Our Bellagio Miss in the TAB Handicap (1100m).
Duggan combined with Our Bellagio Miss to score an upset win over the Randwick 1000m course in a very fast 56.06s two weeks ago.
Our Bellagio Miss was Duggan’s first city winner for more than 12 months as she spent most of 2022 recovering from a debilitating neck injury and contemplating her future.
“I felt close to retiring from riding,’’ Duggan said.
“My neck injury was not getting any better and it was getting me down.’’
Duggan suffered fractures to her neck, right shoulder, left wrist, right foot and nose in a horror fall at Scone in 2020.
The doctors told Duggan her body would recover but her neck injury would take at least 12 months to heal.
She did make a comeback during 2021 and rode a stakes winner on Torrens in the Listed City Tattersalls Club Cup but her neck pain gradually became worse. Duggan had to stop riding for more treatment and was given two steroid injections in her troublesome neck.
“The first one didn’t really take but then I had the second injection just a couple of days before I flew home to see my parents in Sweden,’’ she said.
“When I was overseas, I got away from racing and slowly my neck started to feel so much better.
“I started to train again and because my parents live on a farm and have stock horses, I began riding them for fun.
“It didn’t take me long to realise I missed racing and I thought I still have at least one comeback in me.’’
Duggan returned to race riding early in December and rode a winner at Tamworth just a couple of days before Our Bellagio Miss scored at $61 at Randwick two weeks ago.
In a tight finish, Our Bellagio Moss just held off the fast finishing Vowmaster but Duggan was certain her mare had been pipped on the post.
“I thought we had just lost then as we were coming back to scale I couldn’t work out what the camera was on me,’’ Duggan said.
“Then I realised we had won, it was such a thrill. I can’t thank (trainers) Robert and Luke Price and the mare’s owners for giving me the chance to ride her.’’
Our Bellagio Miss is rated only a $26 chance for Saturday’s race but Duggan believes the mare is capable of another upset win.
“I feel she is one of those horses that has been looking for dry tracks,’’ Duggan said.
“It would have been so hard for her to be going around on heavy 10 tracks all the time. A lot of horses have turned their form around with the drier tracks.’’
Duggan also rides the James Ponsonby-trained duo of Philipsburg and Socrates, who are part-owned by high profile media personalities, 2GB presenter John Stanley and Sky Racing host Andrew Martin.
Philipsburg is rated a $23 chance in the Kia Ora Prague Handicap (1600m) and Socrates is also at $23 for the Fujitsu General Handicap (2000m).
Duggan’s other rides includes the Sue Grills-trained Mr Severino ($31) in the TAB Highway (1400m), trainer Matthew Smith’s handy mare Undeniable ($51) in the Egroup Security Handicap (1100m) and Bergen ($71) from the Sara Ryan stable in the Furphy Handicap (1300m).
The apprentice also has two rides at Canterbury’s New Year’s Day program on Sunday before travelling to Taree on Tuesday.
Through sheer persistence and determination, Duggan has made a complete recovery, is riding winners again and with plans to continue her career in the saddle after she comes out of her apprenticeship in two months time. “It’s all about where you can get the support,’’ Duggan said.
“But I will just keep working hard and trying to achieve my goals. I’m just happy to be riding again.’’
Vowmaster and Quick Tempo, who are clashing with Our Bellagio Miss in the TAB Handicap, were responsible for two of the fastest closing sectionals recorded at Royal Randwick two weeks ago.
Our Bellagio Miss won the 1000m scamper with Vowmaster coming from back in the field to finish a close second and running his final 600m sectional in a brilliant 31.68s.
But Quick Tempo came home even faster than Vowmaster, recording a stunning 31.47s for his 600m sectional and finishing fourth.
There was a strong tailwind up the straight that day but the sectionals recorded by Vowmaster and Our Bellagio Miss were the fastest at Randwick this year given Sydney has had a plethora of wet tracks.
I Am Me can become the first horse to win four Sydney races this season when she contests the Listed $160,000 Canterbury Sprint (1200m) at Canterbury on Sunday.
The Ciaron Maher and David Eustace-trained I Am Me has reeled off three successive wins from as many starts, scoring twice at Rosehill before she sped around the Randwick 1200m in a brilliant 1m 7.77s two weeks ago.
It is understood at least two Everest slot-holders have already contacted owner-syndicator Dean Watt of Dynamic Syndications and have I Am Me in the conversation for the world’s richest turf race next October.
In early TAB Fixed Odds betting for The Everest, I Am Me firmed from $101 to $34 for The Everest after her Randwick romp earlier this month.
Sydney racing lost a loyal servant when Australian Turf Club employee Richard Kimpton passed away suddenly on Christmas Eve. He was 70. Kimpton worked for a number of Randwick trainers over the years including the legendary Tommy Smith, Grahame Begg and Robert Pearse, and for the last 20 years he has been managing the equine pool. Funeral details are yet to be finalised.
Originally published as Apprentice Jenny Duggan is making the most of her opportunities since her return to riding