Clan O'Leary celebrate the win they waited so long with Who Shot Thebarman in the Sydney Cup.
Unforgotten stamped her presence in the Oaks, Winx was simply superb making it 25 on end in the Queen Elizabeth, but nothing compared with the veteran Who Shot Thebarman in completing a Group One hat-trick for Chris Waller at Randwick today.
At last a major Australian win was his, rising 10 years old yet still able to out-tough horses half his age and take away the thick end of the Sydney Cup’s A$2 million stake.
“Year in, year out, he’s been second and third in Sydney Cups, Melbourne Cups, and now finally he’s got one,” said Waller with familiar post-race emotion combined with immense satisfaction. “That’s the best he’s ever looked today, his last run (for third in the Tancred Stakes) set him up for this, and now he’s done it as a nine-year-old.
“It’s been so frustrating, just getting beaten so many times and last year the disappointment of having to pull him out of the Melbourne Cup.
“The horse himself hasn’t been frustrating, he’s always been tough but he’s also given so much. I’m just so pleased for the horse and for his team of owners.”
For Wanganui’s Clan O’Leary, lining the winner’s circle rail in their orange caps, matching ties and accessories, this was the ultimate. Refusing to believe that their wonderful warrior had got up to beat Kiwi-trained pair Zacada and Charles Road, they waited anxiously thinking that yet again the old boy had been denied.
What followed when he was confirmed the winner by a nose was one of those moments that makes racing such a great sport, especially when it’s shared by many.
“At last!” bellowed Humphrey O’Leary, the co-owner of last month’s Auckland Cup winner Ladies First and partner with his brothers Dan, Michael and Shaun and their wives in the horse named in memory of their late Aunty Joan.
“We’ve been all around it but never got the big one. We love Thebarman, he’s been a great horse for all of us and today is the day we’ll always remember – but tonight we will party!.”
Blake Shinn, who rode Who Shot Thebarman in his Moonee Valley Cup win on the same day that Winx took her third Cox Plate last October, was happy to lob along with just a couple behind him. With 800 metres to run he set him alight around the field and loomed up wide out.
He still had some work to do, however, with Charles Road and Zacada lodging their claims closer in, but he was up for the fight and got the bob in right on the line to claim victory. Zacada turned around his first-up Sydney form in last week’s Chairman’s Quality to almost pull off a boilover, while Charles Road just died on his challenge over the final stages to finish a length back third.