THREE blokes from varying backgrounds who share a common passion for horse racing are living the dream.
A farmer, a sparkie who won a Stawell Gift and the operator of a family-owned tyre service business and president of the biggest licensed club in town, are Sydney-bound with live chances in one of the richest race meetings in the world.
Dick Sloane has raced and bred plenty of horses over the years, but had never won a race in the city until he joined more than 30 others in a syndicate which owns one of the leading fancies in the $13 million Everest – Santa Ana Lane.
And Glenn Chapman and Graeme Edgar have been on the ride of their lives with The Monstar, who chases his biggest career win in the inaugural running of the richest race for country-trained horses, the $1.3 million The Kosciuszko.
Sloane and Chapman are also Albury Racing Club committeemen and Edgar is president of its long-standing Gold Cup major sponsor, the Commercial Club.
The Everest was launched last year and is open to 12 slot holders who pay $600,000 for the privilege with Santa Ana Lane the nominated runner for Inglis, which committed to purchasing a slot for three years.
Santa Ana Lane is one of two horses in the race trained by Anthony Freedman with other being Shoals, who will race for a different slot holder, Sydney’s Star Casino.
The Everest total prizemoney is close to double that of the $7.3 million Melbourne Cup with $5.8 million going to the winner.
“You always dream of having a good horse,” Sloane said.
“I’ve always thought besides breeding, having a group winner and racing and winning in town, which we’ve all been fortunate to do, there is nothing better.
“It’s a huge thrill.”
Santa Ana Lane is a winner of $2.5 million in career prizemoney and heads into The Everest with a last start win in the group 2 Premiere Stakes over the same race distance of 1200m.
The six-year-old also won the group 1 Stradbroke Handicap in the winter with The Monstar, interestingly, finishing among the beaten brigade in the same race.
The Kosciuszko’s inception is a dream come true for country trainers and owners who generally race more for passion than prizemoney outside the major carnival times.
All horses eat the same, cost the same, but all of a sudden we’re running in a $1.3 million race and not a $22,000 maidenThe Monstar part-owner Graeme Edgar
Twelve lucky $5 sweepstake ticket buyers are allocated a horse in the race with one of the lucky winners, Central Coast car dealership manager Paul Ratcliffe, able to strike a deal with The Monstar’s connections to run in the race.
The Monstar is also part-owned by trainer Brett Cavanough and Jeff Armstrong, a former pro running mate of Chapman.
A 75-25 ownership split was agreed to by the eight-year-old’s long-standing owners and Ratcliffe last month.
The Monstar’s biggest win to date came earlier this year when he won a group 2 race on the Sunshine Coast.
First prizemoney for the Moreton Cup win was $106,000, but if lucky enough to salute this weekend the owners will pocket $685,000 which would almost double the gelding’s career prizemoney in one hit.
“Realistically this should be about a $120,000 race due to the calibre of horse running,” Chapman said.
“But he has to win for me to break square after being involved in racing for so long.
“It’s cost me a fortune.
“If you do the stats on the horses who have raced and won prizemoney of between $500,000 and $1 million, The Monstar is a 1/10,000 horse.
“We’ve been pretty lucky.”
They didn’t blink when Cavanough offered them the chance to buy into The Monstar after a trial win at Albury in late 2013 before winning on debut at Gundagai 11 days later as the heavily-backed $2 pre-race favourite.
Edgar said he was struggling to contain his excitement heading into a potentially massive payday at Royal Randwick.
“The prizemoney is once in a lifetime stuff,” he said.
“All horses eat the same, cost the same, but all of a sudden we’re running in a $1.3 million race and not a $22,000 maiden.
“But not only has it allowed us to go and have some fun, we’ve built some great friendships along the way.
“It’s been enormous.”
Chapman and Edgar are still to meet the latest addition to The Monstar’s ownership ranks in person, but have been assured he shares their love of racing and its added benefits of a good time.
Cavanough’s training career is still tracking north with success in the NSW country-trainer-of-the-year award again this year and The Monstar taking out the country-trained horse equivalent.
And the planets could be aligning for connections of The Monstar, who is a proven commodity on rain-affected tracks and showers predicted to fall before raceday.
“I never under-estimated him after his form last year against group 1 horses,” Cavanough said.
“His last 10 races have been in group races and he hasn’t been beaten all that far in any of them.
“He will have his turn one day and you’ve just got to wait for it.
“There is nothing wrong with him.
“He is in mint condition and it will be a great day to bowl over the $1 million mark.”
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