END OF THE RAINBOW: Eric Sandford with his pot of gold, Prix de Gold.
END OF THE RAINBOW: Eric Sandford with his pot of gold, Prix de Gold.

LITTLE RIPPER

By TONY WHITE

RACEHORSE owners are often an unreasonably optimistic group, wearing rose coloured glasses equipped with blinkers when it comes 'their' neddy.

Anticipation too is also a significant factor in the thrill of racehorse ownership.

At Grafton races today a group of local owners are hoping 'their' horse -- Prix De Gold -- can live up to the dreams and break its maiden status by winning the XXXX Gold Entires & Geldings Maiden (1100m).

Three-year-old Prix De Gold, trained by Eric Sandford and to be ridden by Lorna Cook, will have a large cheer squad on hand willing the gelding to the post.

Clarence River Jockey Club (CRJC) chairman Bob Pavitt heads the syndicate that races the son of French sire, Export Prince.

The other members are Pavitt's wife Cheryl, CRJC director Brian Ferrie and his wife Louise, Sue McKimm, wife of Steve McKimm of McKimm's Real Estate, Grafton, builder and Grafton Redmen rugby union first grade coach Gary Powell, Lisa Thompson, local physiotherapist Kelly Ford, the wife of Redmen player and Wooli Bailey and Gough real estate agent Ron Ford and Phil Tarrant, a former CRJC director and long-time racing enthusiast.

Pavitt has been in the racing game most of his life and after years of experiencing the highs and lows of owning thoroughbreds, is a realist these days.

"Winning any race is always a great feeling, but we're just a group of friends hoping to have some fun together," Pavitt said.

"You need the right horse and a bit of luck as well."

To date Prix De Gold, out of Fountain Gold, has had three starts for two placings and a second.

"A win shouldn't be too far off," Sandford suggested. "He's got an each-way chance but I think he's going to be a better horse later over more ground.

"He's got a good barrier (three) and we're hoping he gets to the line."

Pavitt agrees.

"The horse is going all right but we all think over a bit more distance he will improve further.

"The best is yet to come."

How many times have owners and punters heard that line.

But in Prix De Gold's case hopefully there will be a pot of gold at the end of the rainbow.

So far the owners have been patient.

Prix De Gold was bred by Warren Denny, the former Maitland tractor dealer now retired who owns Riverdale Lodge in Grafton. Denny is also a former part-owner of Bart Cummings former top class three-year-old, Best Western.

A late foal ? November 27 ? and on the small side, Prix De Gold first came into work last July but after discussions with the owners, Sandford elected to give the horse more time to grow and mature.

"Late foals racing as two-yearold's have to play catch up. Things even up more when they turn three," Sandford said.

"He came in last July but we allowed him to develop, grow and we gelded him."



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