By Brad Gray
All is well that ends well.
Victorem delivered on his promise in Saturday’s TAB Highway Handicap at Royal Randwick despite half “crow hopping” soon after the start. Punters weren’t the only ones breathing a sigh of relief after the even money favourite scrambled home in a three-way photo as the owners recently turned down a five figure offer from Hong Kong for the three-year-old.
Watch how it unfolded for Victorem
“It would have been nice but we are in it for the love of racing and nothing else,” explained one of Victorem’s owners Jason O’Brien. “There’s a few mates in it and they said it defeats the purpose of owning a horse. We’d never won in town on a Saturday and I wasn’t going to give that dream away.”
“We could get that money, spend it and buy a dud. We’ve got a horse with a bit of ability and we’re going enjoy the good ride. It’s off the bucket list winning in town!
Ben Looker must have had nasty flashbacks to when Victorem bucked on his debut at Casino and cost himself the race but to the jockey and horse’s credit, the duo still managed bring up win number three from four starts.
“He jumped well and just as he was joining up to the course proper he decided to chuck a little crow hop in to make sure I was concentrating. He did a really good job to pick himself up from there,” Looker said.
“I was lucky enough there was some scrimmage I was able to avoid and was able to sneak straight through. He has got plenty of ability and is probably a five to six length better horse than he was today. (Over) the 1000m they got him off the bridle a long way out but to his credit his ability shone through.
“As he was at the trials the other day he was off his head and he got a little bit warm today but the more racing he has the better he will get.”
“That was a gutsy win and he’ll only improve. He wasn’t fully wound up for this. It’s off the bucket list winning in town!”
— Racing NSW (@racing_nsw) December 16, 2017
Looker, who is second in the Country Jockey Premiership behind Greg Ryan, and had Sky Racing presenter and former jockey Priscilla Schmidt on track with him, thanked the connections for offering him the ride.
“My partner (Schmidt) has been up me all week because ever since I found out I was going to ride him I haven’t stopped talking about him. I’m really lucky that Jenny and the owners stuck with me. Obviously I’ve had a lot to do with him and know him inside out but it’s really good to come down here and ride a winner.”
Meanwhile, Jenny Graham confirmed Victorem, like stablemate Awesome Pluck, will be aimed at the Country Championship series, which begin in February.
“I really do think (Victorem) is a very nice horse going forward. I think he’ll get a bit of ground later on because he does like to relax. It’s just that we put him under a little bit more pressure today because of the 1000m,” Graham said.
On Awesome Pluck’s defeat Graham said, “I was really happy with him - he just needs more racing. Tye said he’s still just a big baby.”