STAYING ON: Sarah Curtis rides Ollie Vollie to the John Carlton Cup on Westlawn Day after almost falling earlier in the race.
STAYING ON: Sarah Curtis rides Ollie Vollie to the John Carlton Cup on Westlawn Day after almost falling earlier in the race. Adam Hourigan

Ollie ollie ollie, oi oi oi

FOR a fleeting moment yesterday apprentice Sarah Curtis’s dream ride on Ollie Vollie looked certain to crash in disaster.

After the Sue Grills-trained gelding won the $15,000 John Carlton Cup (1200m), the 24-year-old revealed to Grills “we nearly came down”.

“I thought I was gone,” Curtis added.

Later she expanded.

“Near the 1000 metres a horse came over from the outside and I had to check a bit, we got bumped around,” she said.

“I thought I was going to clip heels and come down. That’s the closest I’ve ever come to falling in a race.

“The heart rate certainly increased. Fortunately Ollie overcome that and won … brilliant.”

Coming with determined strides over the final 200m, Ollie Vollie, backed from $4.20 into $3.40 favouritism, scored by three quarters of a length from locally-trained Montana Hilton ($13), with Innocenttassie ($6) a half-length away third.

It was girl power to the fore with Grills and Curtis.

The near disaster didn’t dampen their enthusiasm.

“What a win. We’re heading into the Ramornie for sure now,” Tamworth-based Grills said. “I think he’s a better horse this year.

“He ran good in the Ramornie last year (fourth), but we’re riding him different now, holding him up a bit early.

“He’s a much better horse for it.”

Curtis, who followed the pony club trail and until meeting fiancé, jockey Malcolm Duke, had no real desire to take up a race riding career.

“Yeah, I wasn’t really interested until I met Malcolm and eventually started riding trackwork,” she said. “Everything went from there.”

Apprenticed to Grills, Curtis has ridden six winners and yesterday marked her biggest success.

“It’s something I’ll never forget. I didn’t want to let anyone down,” she added. A beaming smile when she returned to scale said it all.

Head-on film of the incident near the 100m clearly showed Ollie Vollie like a pinball bouncing off horses to its inside and out, reacting under tightening, for more than 50m. Ollie Vollie, a seven-year-old, is part-owned by former leading Sydney bookmaker and breeder Bruce McHugh and his wife Charlene.

Yesterday was the gelding’s 13th success in 48 starts and he’s earned in excess of $350,000.

“He’s been just so consistent, honest,” Grills said. “He’s hardly ever ran a bad race.

“He loves his racing, loves being in the country, loves people and attention, just a beautiful horse. A kids’ pony. The Ramornie won’t be easy, it’s a damn hard race, but if he draws a good barrier, watch out, he’ll be hard to beat.”

Unfortunately for trainer Terry Commerford’s apprentice Samantha Munro, she collapsed in the toilet earlier in the day and was treated by ambulance staff. Melissa Brown replaced Munro aboard Montana Hilton.

“There’s a lot of flu going around. She was dehydrated but should be okay,” Commerford reported later.

That’s the closest I’ve ever come to falling. Fortunately Ollie overcame that



ADOPT A FAMILY: How you can help someone this Christmas

ADOPT A FAMILY: How you can help someone this Christmas

Pick a family-in-need in the Clarence Valley and help make a difference this...

Changed traffic conditions for Pacific Highway upgrade

Premium Content Changed traffic conditions for Pacific Highway upgrade

Roadworks for the upgraded Pacific Highway will continue this week

U-turn bays closed for finishing work on new Pacific Highway

Premium Content U-turn bays closed for finishing work on new Pacific Highway

Changed traffic conditions will be in place from today between Devils Pulpit and...