This wasn’t just a horse race, this was sporting theatre at it most compelling.
There was Glen Boss, finding a way through on Kolding when most thought his race was over. There was Chris Waller, again masterminding another big-race coup.
As it has been most of the Sydney spring carnival, it was Boss and Waller again, combining to win another major with the inaugural running of the $7.5 million Iron Jack Golden Eagle (1500m) at Rosehill Gardens.
This came after the champion trainer and jockey had combined earlier this spring to win the Epsom Handicap with Kolding and The Everest with Yes Yes Yes.
But winning is never boring. Just ask the 20,756 on track at Rosehill Gardens on Saturday who watched one of the most thrilling races of the spring.
At 50, Boss is back. The Hall of Fame jockey started the day knowing he had lost the Melbourne Cup ride on the favourite, Constantinople.
But he didn’t let that disappointment cloud his thinking and came out and produced one of the most spectacular big-race rides of his career.
“From where I was six months ago, when I returned to Sydney, to where I am now, I just can’t put it into words,’’ Boss said.
“I am dreaming right now but I have this horse to thank because he was so brave.
“Wow that was some race! In the middle it was ridiculously slow it was almost dangerous. J Mac (James McDonald on Arcadia Queen) almost fell beside me it was so slow.
“I’d almost given up to be honest because of the speed in the race. I thought ‘I should have been more positive’ or ‘I should have made them work a bit more’, all these things were going through my head.
“But then you just straight away switch back, you’ve got a job to do. I had nowhere to go in the straight but then that gap came. Kolding’s sprint, his desire – just incredible.’’
Waller admitted he was looking more at his other runner wider out, Arcadia Queen, as he felt Kolding was going to be held up for a run.
“What a thrill because Kolding looked as if he was going to be very unlucky, he was like a pinball machine up the straight,’’ Waller said.
“When Kolding got out I thought ‘oh no the winning post is going to come up a bit quick’ but he’s a great horse, he had to lift and he was very impressive.”
Kolding ($6) burst through the pack late to run down front-runner Sunlight ($26) right on the line to win by a long neck with Mizzy ($41) third, just over a length away.
Arcadia Queen, the $3.30 favourite, ran fifth, just behind Behemoth as the first five placegetters flashed over the line with only two lengths separating them.
Waller paid tribute to Boss for his ability to return to the top of Australian racing this season.
“I love jockeys in their mature years, I think they’re under so much pressure early days and we’ve just got to look after them and respect what they do,’’ Waller said.
“Looking after themselves they can get well into their fifties and still ride well. ‘Bossy’ to me is still a very young rider.
“He’s one of the very, very best we’ve ever had, not just one year, two years but throughout his career.”
Waller had runners in all the majors at Flemington on Saturday but felt it was important for him to be at his home track of Rosehill to support the new race.
“It’s a very special day,’’ Waller said.
“We sacrificed some big races in Melbourne but I think this race will quickly capture the imagination the Everest has and will catch up to the Group 1 races pretty quickly.
“The Golden Eagle is run at Rosehill, this is my home track, and this is where I’ve started my career. I wanted to be here to support this raced.’’
The final word to Boss who is riding with the confidence and daring that has been the trademark of his celebrated riding career.
“I have this horse to thank. Without these beautiful specimens of animals the athletes that they are, I wouldn’t be able to these sorts of things.
“I’m privileged to be part of Team Waller, Neville Morgan’s family and this horse because he’s a serious animal. He’s a gelding so he’ll be here for a long time – we’re gonna have some fun.” – Ray Thomas, The Daily Telegraph.