By Ray Hickson
At Royal Randwick
If it weren’t for Winx, warhorse Who Shot Thebarman would have easily been the most popular winner at Royal Randwick as he finally claimed his Sydney Cup.
It was a case of try, try, try, try and try again as ‘The Barman’, twice runner-up previously, scored a last stride win in the Group 1 $2m Schweppes Sydney Cup (3200m) at his fifth attempt.
The ageless nine-year-old, one of the oldest Group 1 winners in Australia, has also been around in three Melbourne Cups and the win gave trainer Chris Waller plenty of satisfaction.
“Year in year out and every preparation he gives us something to hope for and his run in the Tancred was unbelievable so we came here with a bit of confidence,’’ Waller said.
“You just need everything in your favour, it was the bob of the head and we thought we were beaten. Today was our day.”
Who Shot Thebarman was ridden a perfect race by jockey Blake Shinn, who settled him back in the field before edging into the race coming to the turn and it took all his staying prowess to reel in outsider Zacada.
Re live Who Shot Thebarman’s long overdue Sydney Cup win at Royal Randwick
And listening to the cheers that erupted when his number went into the frame you’d swear he started favourite and not $16.
Waller said the gelding, a stable favourite, deserved his moment in the sun.
“He would be the most frustrating horse to train, not because of the horse but the seconds, the thirds, running in Melbourne Cups, Sydney Cups year in year out,’’ Waller said.
“That is the best he’s looked for a nine-year-old, he was a test as a younger horse and we haven’t given up on him, looked after him.
“It was heartbreaking for the owners to be scratched on the eve of the Melbourne Cup last year with an elevated temperature.”
There was a sensation prior to the Sydney cup with Japanese visitor Pre Stwick scratched at the barriers after jockey Joao Moreira wasn’t happy with his action heading to the gates.
Who Shot Thebarman had his first Sydney Cup start back in 2014, finishing ninth. He ran second in 2015, fourth in 2016 and second last year.
It was Shinn’s first Sydney Cup win and he was rapt to be able to break through on one of his favourite horses.
“What a thrilling finish, if there is every a horse that deserves to win a Sydney Cup it’s him, only narrowly beaten in two, nine-years-old and he’s got a great group of owners that follow him around every year,’’ Shinn said.
“This is for the horse, credit to Chris Waller and his team getting him to back up every year.
“It means a lot to me to be able to do it for those guys, they’ve stuck solid with me the last couple of years riding him and it’s a massive thrill to be able to get him over the line today.”