Walling-Denton returns to the training game in Alice Springs

Alice Springs trainer Leah Walling-Denton with her dad Paul Denton, one of the leading jockeys in the Northern Territory for the past 40 years.

It has been a longtime between drinks, but Alice Springs trainer Leah Walling-Denton makes her return at Pioneer Park on Sunday.

Walling-Denton, the daughter of veteran Northern Territory jockey Paul Denton, will start eight-year-old gelding Future Dreams and six-year-old gelding Acres Midnight in the open handicap over 1000m.

It’s the feature race on the Alice Springs Turf Club’s four-event program and with a $24,500 purse.

Getting the cash this weekend won’t be easy for Walling-Denton as Kerry Petrick’s in-form Throw At Da Stumps – a $1.15 favourite on Friday – is flying after cleaning up the field by almost four lengths over 1000m (BM76) last Saturday as the $1.45 favourite with top horse racing betting sites.

Throw At Da Stumps, tipped to make an impact during Cup Carnival, might be lumping 63kg on Sunday and spotting his four other rivals 8kg, but the five-year-old gelding will take some stopping.

Since arriving from Victoria, Throw At Da Stumps has had 10 starts for Petrick in Darwin, Kununurra and Alice Springs.

Top End jockey Adam Nicholls was the pilot when the son of Rich Enuff won on his NT debut at Darwin last June, but since then Denton has partnered the gelding for a further four wins, three seconds and a third.

Denton is booked to ride Throw At Da Stumps once again on Sunday.

Walling-Denton isn’t expecting any miracles from Future Dreams, who hasn’t raced since August 2022, and Acres Midnight, who hasn’t appeared since last April.

Denton was in the saddle when last Walling-Denton saddled up both horses, but this weekend apprentice Lek Maloney will ride Future Dreams with Stan Tsaikos aboard Acres Midnight.

Although Walling-Denton, who has been off the scene since Acres Midnight’s last race, has just the two horses in her stable she is very much looking forward to her return.

“Yeah, I had a few months off and gave both horses a spell, but I was always going to return at some stage,” she said.

“I don’t really go for holidays or have much of a break, so I just decided to have a few months off from training and now I’m back.

“It’s been a longtime coming, but we’re finally back at the races.

“We ended up in the bloody open handicap to help hold up the meeting.

“They’re both just going around on Sunday to gather race fitness.

“Because Future Dreams hasn’t raced for 12 months he had to barrier trial, so we’ve done that.”

With five wins and 15 minor placings from 44 starts, Future Dreams’ last tasted success four starts ago over 1200m (0-58) in July 2022.

Acres Midnight’s only win was in a 1000m Condobolin maiden in NSW in February 2022 for Nyngan trainer Rodney Robb, but in 25 other starts he has secured a minor placing on eight occasions.

Walling-Denton, who had the opportunity to care for Roughly in 2022 in the absence of regular trainer Paul Gardner when the ageing mare enjoyed a period of success, has been training for almost eight years.

Come Sunday, it’s unlikely her runners, as well as Petrick’s stablemates Kikuyu (Casey Hunter) and The Girl’s Party (Ianish Luximon), are going to thwart Throw At Da Stumps.

“Take the likely winner away, Future Dreams and Acres Midnight are back in their own grade pretty much anyway,” Walling-Denton said.

“Hopefully we might land a place, otherwise we’re just going around for fitness.

“I’m not expecting too much, but you never know.

“My pair aren’t probably Carnival horses, but if there’s a race there we’ll consider it.”

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