The country’s biggest trainer has come away with the quinella in Victoria’s biggest race for country-trained horses at Flemington.
Darren Weir has trained the winners of many Group One races including the 2015 Melbourne Cup but reckons just getting a runner in Thursday’s $200,000 Country Cup (1600m) was hard.
Weir operates stables at Ballarat and Warrnambool, qualifying Another Coldie and Night’s Watch through the last heat of the Country series at Bendigo on November 1.
Night’s Watch won that day but it was Another Coldie ($7) who improved on his third to take out the final by a length from his stablemate who started the $3 favourite.
“There have been heats for this series all over the country, and most of my horses running in it ran terribly,” Weir said.
“I couldn’t get a horse into the final until Bendigo the other day.
“It’s a great series. It gives the country trainers something to aspire towards, and having a runner at Flemington on Oaks Day is a thrill for some of the smaller stables around the state.”
One of those smaller stables belongs to Doug Whitworth who trained third placegetter I Am The Dark ($26).
Whitworth trains at the Grampians hamlet, Fyans Creek, which is listed as having a population of 36.
“I’m pretty proud of the horse,” Whitworth said.
“The race was set up for those coming behind, particularly Weiry’s horses.
“But we’ve got $18,000 for third which is pretty good.”
That $18,000 is the second biggest cheque I Am The Dark has collected, bettered only by the $27,500 he won for his victory at Murtoa two starts ago which earned him a place in Thursday’s race.