Free Standing Upsets at Royal Randwick
When you talk of about dreams coming true in racing, the horse that always comes to mind is champion galloper Takeover Target. And there are an uncanny number of similarities between the winner of the Country Championship Final today at Royal Randwick and the big champ.
A son of Equiano, Free Standing won the on the first day of The Championships over 1200m ridden by Blake Sin and trained in Coffs Harbour by Cathleen Rode.
Free Standing is paddocked right next door to Takeover Targets trainer’s stables Joe Janiack in Coffs Habour and he is sired by the champion galloper Equiano who beat Takeover Target at Royal Ascot. Additionally Cathleen Rode, like Joe Janiak is a small time trainer with three horses in work, and they both spent a similar amount buying their now very profitable thoroughbreds.
We only paid $2,600 for him and he had won over $100,000 in prize money leading into today,” owner and partner of trainer Cathleen Rode, Steven Thompson said after the win.
“I bought him because he was by Equiano,” Thompson said. “Our stable complex is next to Joe Janiak and I yelled out one day, ‘I bought an Equiano, the horse that beat Takeover Target (in the Kings Stand at Royal Ascot in 2008).”
Watching Free Standing race to victory at Randwick certainly paid off, as it had been a challenge fleeing rising flood waters around the mid-north coast earlier this week.
"My only doubt was, that as we got flooded I had three days of no training tracks, nothing. We couldn't go to the beach because that was just as bad and I couldn’t leave the area because he had to stay in his region to be trained."
“Luckily I was able to send him down with the foreman to Wyong for a week” Rode said.
Rode also had to juggle jockeys as they had Takeovers Target’s Jay Ford booked but as Blake Shin couldn’t make the weight on his filly they did a swap.
Rode always believed the four year-old was a chance of causing an upset, as his strong finishes in recent starts had given her confidence in her galloper.
"I do seriously think he’ll be in the first four. Once he got the opening (in the Northern Rivers Qualifier) he just took off, he knew where the line was.”
With the biggest win of her training career, Rode was understandably excited. "That's one off my bucket list. I'm pretty happy," she said.
Blake Shin speaking post race, “I was down to ride Pumpkin Pie but I couldn’t make the weight, and thankfully I got on this horse. It gives me great satisfaction to win for Cathleen and all her connections.” Shinn said.
"This is a great concept, it gives people in country NSW a chance to experience the thrill of metropolitan racing for great prize money," Shinn said. "To be able to win this great race is really special.
"He travelled super and when the leader rolled off and presented the run he sprinted quickly."
Cathleen Rode can now head off on her first holiday in seven years with some extra spending money, with Free Standing’s $210,000 in prize money certainly coming in handy.
Free Standing can certainly now be called the next Takeover Target from Coffs Harbour and you couldn’t wipe the smile off Rode or her son Pyke’s face after Free Standing got home.