The year was 2011 and the Wagga Cup was won in memorable and emotional scenes by a rampaging Voice Commander for his trainer Nick Olive and jockey Kathy O’Hara.
Fast forward to Friday, and the same combination will be striving for a repeat with bonny mare Maid Of Ore in the $200,000 Harvey Norman Wagga Cup (2000m).
The decade since then has seen Olive and O’Hara rise to some amazing highs with their own champion Single Gaze winning a host of feature races and running in a Melbourne Cup.
Maid Of Ore is the best mare that has come into Olive’s care since Single Gaze and is rated as a $13 chance behind the favourite Yonkers on Friday.
The six-year-old won the Gundagai Cup two starts back with 61 kilograms on her back before finishing fourth and less than two lengths from the winner at the Kensington circuit on April 25.
The winner of almost $300,000 in prize money is one of the few mares in the Cup and will be ridden by one of the few female jockeys in the race – the others being Rachel King (Paths Of Glory) and apprentice jockey Ellen Hennessy (The Doctor’s Son).
It will be a career highlight for Hennessy – the Irish apprentice who has made a successful career for herself at Queanbeyan before transferring to Kembla Grange – competing in such a prestigious race even though she is on one of the outsiders.
There are some striking similarities between Voice Commander and Maid Of Ore who both won the Gundagai Cup with jockey Billy Owen in the saddle.
Voice Commander went on to win the Wagga Cup, while Maid Of Ore is attempting to repeat history.
Olive believes Maid Of Ore will have every chance to show her class from the inside barrier draw.
Maid Of Ore runs fourth at Kensington on April 25
“I think she can run top five the way she has been going and she should get a nice run,” he said.
“Kathy rode her in Sydney last start and that will play into her hands having had a ride on her.”
Meanwhile, Knight’s Order will start first-up over 2000 metres for the powerful Gai Waterhouse and Adrian Bott stable.
Having not raced for a few months shouldn’t prevent Knight’s Order from looking the winner at some stage.
The galloper, which formerly raced as Knight Errant in Ireland, has had one trial in preparation for his first race start since December.
“We have got a few really nice horses heading down to Wagga,” Bott said.
“Knight’s Order first-up in the Cup. He’s ready to run a bold race for us.”
The stable will also have Splendiferous – a winner of her past two starts at Newcastle – racing in the Byrne Trailers Queen Of The South (1400m).
Champion jockey Nash Rawiller will have the ride on Splendiferous, while he will partner one of the favourites Spirit Ridge ($6) in the Cup.
The jockey’s son Campbell will be aboard Knight’s Order ($21).
It’s believed this is the first time a father and son have ridden against each other in the Wagga Cup.
Spirit Ridge’s trainer Mark Newnham feels his galloper is primed to run well.
The six-year-old hasn’t raced since contesting the Sydney Cup over 3200 metres three weeks ago, but at his previous start was beaten only three lengths by Sir Dragonet in the Group 1 Tancred Stakes.
“The Wagga Cup was always our preference and on his form he will run well,” Newnham said.
“He has had a freshen up and I’m happy with the way he has come through in his training since his last start.”
Spirit Ridge closed out his previous campaign with three wins and two seconds from five starts and while he hasn’t won in three outings this preparation he has been just as impressive in better class races.
Jockey Robbie Dolan has been aboard Spirit Ridge in most of his recent starts, but will instead partner Mr Marathon Man.
Cup top weight Young Rascal is en route to the Gold Cost for some races during winter and will start first-up at Wagga.
The former French galloper has won four of his seven first-up attempts.
Burdened with 61 kilograms at his first start since October, Young Rascal will need to be at his best according to trainer Archie Alexander.
“We are not just going there (Wagga) for a warm-up run,” he said.
“He’s in good form. The problem in Australia so far has been he hasn’t really had his ground (right track conditions).
“I think he has had a few excuses. He has needed a bit of time to acclimatise and now all looks good and everything fits into place.”