IN Racing
Tommyra out to honour Toby in the Waikato Hurdle
Connections of talented Matamata jumper Tommyra would love to honour the late Toby Autridge.
NZ Racing Desk | June 17, 2022
Tommyra. Photo: Trish Dunell

Connections of talented Matamata jumper Tommyra would love to honour the late Toby Autridge with success in the Fairview Motors Waikato Hurdle (3200m) for a second time on Saturday.

Tommyra won the 2020 Waikato Hurdle and was third in 2019 and sixth last year, all under the guidance of Autridge, who died earlier this month.

Autridge's father Bob has taken over the training of Tommyra and would love to see the hurdler "win for Toby".

"He was Toby's favourite. We'll just see if we can train him as good," Bob  Autridge said.

"(Toby's death) hit pretty hard and it hasn't really hit home yet. We're a strong family and we're getting by all together.

"He's a good jumper, a great leaper. He's very street-wise. He's done the work and I think he'll represent pretty well."

Raise The Flag 10-year-old Tommyra is on the cusp of $250,000 in stakes earnings, having won 11 of his 75 starts, including five as a hurdler and one in his only steeplechase start.

Among Tommyra's owners is Toby Autridge's wife Debbie and jumps jockey Reece Cole, whose partner Emily Farr takes the ride on Saturday.

Cole has worked closely with the stable for several years and feels Tommyra is in the right condition to run a bold race on Saturday.

"His work this week was pretty good for him. He takes a bit to get going but he's where we want him to be at this stage," Cole said.

Tommyra finished third in his jumping return in this month's KS Browne Hurdle (3100m) at Hastings, a run that has honed his fitness for the Waikato Hurdle.

"That race has tucked him up really nicely. We've noticed a big improvement in him and he'll get better with every run from here in. He's got a big season ahead but we'll just play it patiently with him," Cole said.

"He's there or thereabouts and I wouldn't be surprised if he ran top three. Saturday isn't the be all and end all. We've got a few other things in mind for him so this isn't his grand final.

"He'll go chasing after this start but exactly where we're going, we don't know just yet."

TAB bookmakers have Tommyra as a $6 third favourite for the Te Rapa feature behind Dr Hank at $3.30 and Chief Sequoyah at $4.50 but it's clear he's Cole's favourite.

"He's been a very good horse to me over the past five years. He's a one in a million horse to me," Cole said.

"It would mean the world to me to see him win. I moved to Matamata just over eight years ago and I've ridden work for Toby ever since. He was like a dad to me and (losing him) was heart-breaking."