By Ray Hickson
There was no clearer reminder of what the Kosciuszko winning syndicate Albert Tory was part of last year means to him than when TABs around New South Wales re-opened recently.
The coronavirus took away the camaraderie and joy a Saturday afternoon on the punt provides for the more than 40 members of the Shellharbour TAB Punter’s Club and Tory is so pleased to have it back.
And it’s just in time too as he said most of the group will reform and up the ante in 2020 to chase a second shot at the unique The Kosciuszko concept, where punters buy a $5 ticket to have the chance to select and part-own a horse in the $1.3 million race at Royal Randwick on TAB Everest Day in October.
Tory, 70, who lives in Kiama, managed the Shellharbour TAB syndicate whose members range in age from the 20s to 80s and said he continues to see the flow on effect of Handle The Truth’s win, the horse they selected, last spring.
“During the coronavirus while the TABs were closed I bet on the phone for the first time ever and I hated it,’’ Tory said.
“As soon as it opened I went back to the TAB. Those 42 people are lovely, lovely, people.
“I have a couple of businesses and I own a few horses but I do it because the people there are good, I support the TAB, and a lot of the people are battlers and it changed their whole life.
“It’s still flowing on from that race. Nearly 12 months down the track I walk into the TAB since it has reopened and just about everyone in that syndicate is there, unfortunately a couple have passed on, and they are happy.
“There’s people there that only have a dollar on a horse, they’ve only got a couple of bucks to bet and go in the punters club. It’s fantastic, that’s what racing is all about.’’
The Shellharbour TAB is run by licensee Christine Tolhurst and Tory said she makes a point of ensuring the TAB experience is a positive one for her customers and played an important role in supporting the Punters Club group.
Over the couple of months tickets were on sale last year the group purchased 300 entries.
Tory said that number will rise to at least 500 for 2020 and that’s on the back of the outrageous experience of not just winning the race but being at Royal Randwick, as owners, on TAB Everest day.
It’s an experience that Tory says money can’t buy and he rates that day as his best ever on a racecourse – and that includes his trips to Royal Ascot.
“The Kosciuszko, it wasn’t the money. It was just truly amazing. Something special,’’ he said.
“I’ve won country races and had horses in Country Championship races but the reality is, what it’s done for racing, it’s changed the whole thing for bread and butter punters.
“Racing NSW and the ATC were sensational, the facilities they provided at Randwick for all of us were just first class, top shelf, as good as anywhere in the world.
“Going into the members and going out to watch the race, it was just beautiful.’’
Owner of Handle The Truth for the day, Albert Tory is stoked after his horse won the Kosciuszko. pic.twitter.com/cXoE7XnkHW
— 7HorseRacing 🐎 (@7horseracing) October 19, 2019
So not only did Tory and the Punter’s Club group win the lottery by owning one of the 14 tickets drawn out he, on the advice of a friend, selected Handle The Truth and the rest is history.
It all starts again from July 1 when the $5 tickets in the 2020 The Kosciuszko become available through the TAB app and at all TAB outlets.
If you’re not familiar with the concept there are 14 winners drawn and, as Tory did with the Keith Dryden-trained Handle The Truth, each winner has the right to nominate a NSW country or ACT trained horse (as at June 30) for The Kosciuszko race.
The 14 winners can then enter into a partnership with the owners of their preferred horse, effectively becoming a part-owner for the day, and agree to a split of the prizemoney.
Tickets will be on sale until midnight on Tuesday 8 September and the draw will be held on Wednesday 9 September. For ticket registration details visit www.thekosciuszko.com.au.