Dar Lunn's Fleur De Force wins opener at Gilgandra New Year race day

It was the best possible start to 2019 for Dubbo trainer Dar Lunn as his four-year-old mare Fleur De Force recorded her maiden win at Gilgandra.

The Bullet Train (GB) x Christie’s Girl progeny has had 37 starts since for owners the Clonans at Gulargambone, taking about 18 months to taste victory.

But Lunn said it had been luck, not ability, that had been missing.

“She’s always knocking on the door, you know,” he said.

“She’s run a lot of good races and in harder company that this so she was always going to win a race, but just hadn’t had a lot of luck for a long time.”

Lunn was in and out quickly on Tuesday, with Fleur De Force ($3.50) his only starter.

She jumped well from barrier two with Kath Bell-Pitomac in the saddle and settled in on the rail behind Delago Express (Ashley Morgan, $9) and Lingennic (Shane McGovern, $61).

It was a tight field as they approached the final turn, but coming into the home straight the pack flared wide.

That was all the invitation Bell-Pitomac needed.

“I rode her the other day and got held up for a run sort of early on in the race which sort of threw me a disadvantage at the end so today, when she got a clear run up the fence, the horse rolled off, I thought I’d make the most of it and go up the fence,” she said.

“It was just trying to sit back and get a bit of cover. Normally she gets further back so a good barrier to make everyone else work hard to get across and it paid off.

“She did really, really well. Dar’s done a beautiful job getting her where she is.”

Fleur De Force ran away to beat Comzig (Alena Skerritt, $3 favourite) and Clint Lundholm’s Zouzoom (Andrew Banks, $7) by 1.32 and 1.71 lengths respectively.

“To come here on the first of January and win a race … it’s a real good [way to start the year],” Lunn said, echoing Bell-Pitomac’s sentiments.

Lunn will be back at Gilgandra “with a truckload” for Sunday’s cup meet.

Hundreds were on hand to ring in the New Year, with Gilgandra Jockey Club chairman Andrew Schier very pleased with the turn-out.

“It’s an old tradition here in Gilgandra to race on New Year’s Day and it’s a good day, it’s a warm one,” he said.

The track was a good three and very green despite the drought, courtesy of the club’s hard work “pouring a heap of water on it”.

We finished 2018 with a dust storm and hopefully we start with some rain this season very early.

Andrew Schier

They’ve been battling the dry and the wind, but Schier said it was worth the effort.

“This is a real spirit builder,” he said.

“Likewise, when we ran our Collie Cup Day, we had upwards of 1000 people here and that was a drought focus and yet we’re still in drought.

“Hopefully it comes out of it soon, but it’s a good boost for people to get out and get away from the farm, especially at this time of the year.”