The Happy Giant triumphs at Tryon

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Allison Fulmer’s grin grew wider with each turn around the temporary stabling tent as she cooled out The Happy Giant after winning the feature at the Tryon Block House Races June 5.

“I do it because I love it,” the Camden S.C.-based owner-trainer said, keeping in stride with her rangy chestnut. “I’m lucky because I don’t have to please anyone but my horses.”

The daughter of a veterinarian, Fulmer was introduced to racing from the start.

“My dad would pick me up from school and make his rounds to the different tracks and training centers here,” Fulmer said. “When I was 15 I got my first riding job for Shadwell, then later galloping for Janet Elliot and Jonathan Sheppard. That old-school horsemanship and conditioning style is what I use today.”

Fulmer bought the son of Frost Giant, now 5, as a yearling. She broke him herself at her farm before racing him lightly on the flat in Maryland and New York. But life on the backside didn’t suit him, she said.

“He’s a thin-skinned redhead,” Fulmer said, laughing. “He needed time to develop – he’s a horseman’s horse – so being a number in a barn at the flat track didn’t work for him.”

Eighteen-year-old apprentice jockey Mell Boucher had the ride at Tryon. Sidelined with a broken collar bone, The Happy Giant’s usual rider, seasoned jockey Ross Geraghty, called the high school senior to offer words of wisdom before the race.

“I never talk strategy with Ross,” Fulmer said. “I’ve always left the horse in Ross’s hands, so he was gracious enough to call Mell to talk about the ride.”

The New York-bred broke late from the start and ran most of the 2-mile race settled toward the back of the field. But just before the penultimate fence, Boucher moved her mount up on the outside to overtake the front running Bodes Well. With full command of the field going into the last, The Happy Giant pulled away to win by 6 lengths over Sportswear.

“Mell gave him a beautiful, patient ride,” Fulmer said. “He doesn’t like the pressure of being ridden too forward too early, and she gave him all the confidence in the world.”