Cup ambassador on the road to recovery

COLAC Gold Cup ambassador Neville Wilson admits he will feel a tinge of disappointment when the cup gates open for the 150th time.

Wilson will be an interested onlooker when the cup field pounds around Colac Racecourse, as he continues to recover from a fall he had in March last year.

Evergreen Camperdown jockey Neville Wilson holds the Colac Gold Cup at Colac’s Memorial Square yesterday.

He said he would have loved to be a part of the historic day for Colac Turf Club, particularly with long-time friend and trainer Geoff Daffy vying for his third cup.

Daffy and Wilson teamed up when equal favourite Unfettered won the 1999 Colac Gold Cup.

The renowned Camperdown trainer will start Camperdown Cup winner Population in the 2000-metre $60,000 feature on Sunday.

“Geoff’s got a horse running and I’d love to be riding it. I’m going to ride Bourbonstreetblues and lead out the cup field, so that’ll be a good thrill,” Wilson said.

Wilson said the Colac Gold Cup was one of south-west Victoria’s big three races.

“You’ve got the Warrnambool Cup, the Hamilton Cup and the Colac Cup, they’re the three main cups in the Western District,” he said.

“It took me a long time to win one, I had a lot of rides, I came second a few times then went bang, bang, bang.”

The 65-year-old rode in his first Colac Gold Cup in the 1970s and waited until ’97 to land his first cup aboard the Craig Conron-trained Regal Ricochet, which went back-to-back.

He saluted again two years later, on Unfettered, and won his third cup in 2008 on Poised To Win, owned by Colac’s Brian O’Donohue and former North Melbourne footballer Glenn Archer.

“The second one was Unfettered, it was more of a thrill because I used to ride him at work every day, and I’d ridden for Geoff for 30 years,” Wilson said.

Wilson will see his medical specialist on March 21 to determine whether he can return to the saddle in a competitive race. He has resumed riding track work.

Wilson said he had “85 per cent” recovered after breaking two vertebrae in his neck, his right arm and left thumb after his saddle slipped while riding The Wind Whistler at Geelong in March.

“I’ll make a decision then. There are no guarantees,” he said.

“Plus I’ve got to be comfortable myself. I’m pretty happy with everything, I’d like to be a bit better but anyway, I realise it takes time.”

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