Inverell Jockey Club: Hula Girl comes from behind to claim Diggers Cup

CUP DEFENCE: Hula Girl wins the 2017 Glen Innes Cup. Her trainer, Paddy Cunningham, is eyeing a defence of the race in January. Photo: Tony Grant.
CUP DEFENCE: Hula Girl wins the 2017 Glen Innes Cup. Her trainer, Paddy Cunningham, is eyeing a defence of the race in January. Photo: Tony Grant.

A drop in class and some sorely needed luck proved a winning formula for Hula Girl in the Diggers Cup in Inverell.

Carrying 56 kilograms and ridden by Terry Treichel, Hula Girl claimed her eighth win in start No.60. It was her first win since triumphing in the Mungindi Cup on July 1.

She beat Latitat by 0.2 metres, with Kilmarnock a further 0.4m away in third in the Saturday race. Hula Girl paid $4.40 for the win.

“She’s been going pretty good but just hadn’t had a lot of luck lately in races,” Hula Girl’s Glen Innes-based trainer Paddy Cunningham said. “Dropped her back in class a bit to a non-TAB race and she was a little bit too strong for them.”

He added: “She was ridden well. She got a fair way back, which is usually the pattern in her races. When a horse does get back it needs a bit of luck.

“She actually got to them [the leaders] pretty easy but it took her a while to get past them. She’s getting a little bit older. But she did win pretty well. She got the upper hand in the last 20 yards or so.”

Cunningham is eyeing starting the horse in other country cup races including a defence tilt of the 2017 Glen Innes Cup.

He said Hula Girl’s form was “probably better” now than it was when she won the Cup, adding that “she didn’t really have any form going into the Glen Innes Cup this year”.

“We’re just playing the races as they come,” he said. “We’re just trying to keep her reasonably fresh and kicking over until they sort of come on.”

Cunningham said Hula Girl now “gives too much weight” for restricted races. “We’ve got to find open handicaps for her these days,” he said. “She’s a little bit hard to place these days. This time of the year there’s a few country cups around. We’ll just keep poking around.”

Cunningham said Treichel returned to racing on Melboune Cup day after being sidelined since January following a heavy fall at Coffs Harbour that left him with chest injuries and unconscious for several minutes. His mount, Miss Trixie, was euthanised.

Treichel has ridden three winners for Cunningham since his return, the trainer said. "He's been a bit lucky,” Cunningham said.