Trainer Keith Dryden has landed the best win of his career with Handle The Truth in The Kosciuszko.
Canberra trainer Keith Dryden will be at the centre of celebrations after Handle The Truth delivered a massive payday for connections and slot holders with victory in the $1.3 million Kosciuszko at Randwick.
Dryden, who has been training for close to 45 years, has won stakes races at the major carnivals but says Saturday’s Kosciuszko triumph is special.
Based on a similar concept to the Everest, the 1200-metre race is restricted to 12 NSW country-trained horses plus two from Canberra who are chosen by winning slot holders.
Quietly confident Handle The Truth would be in the finish, Dryden over-delivered on the expectations of the horse’s 25 plus owners and syndicate of more than 40 slot holders from the Shellharbour TAB agency.
“I said if he runs top five I’ll be happy, if he runs top three I’ll be ecstatic and if he wins there will be a party on,” Dryden said.
“I’ve trained winners on Melbourne Cup day and down the straight six, I’ve had a few winners.
“But this is the biggest prize money we’ve ever won. I think there’s going to be some champagne and prawns.”
Chris Tolhurst, representing the winning slot holders, said the Kosciuszko experience was a big thrill.
Tolhurst operates the TAB agency at Shellharbour and said the Kosciuszko experience had been incredible for the syndicate of winners, comprised mainly of pensioners.
“There is 19 of us here and this is just like winning lotto,” Tolhurst said.
“What a ride. We’ve been kept in the loop all the time and the real owners have been amazing, they have been so inclusive.”
Ridden by Nash Rawiller, Handle The Truth was rock solid at $7 and after stalking the speed he shot to the front and held on to score by a length over $2.70 favourite Victorem with Bobbing ($26) another half-head back.
Rawiller paid tribute to Dryden’s long-range plan to successfully set the horse for the race.
“Keith Dryden’s a trainer I’ve known for 30 years, some of the owners I’ve probably known for 40,” Rawiller said.
“What a great effort. He’s set this race for this horse since 12 months ago and it’s come off.”
Dryden will let the dust settle before deciding where Handle The Truth goes next but the horse could target a minor race during the Melbourne Cup carnival.
Victorem’s rider Tommy Berry thought his horse was the winner in the run but said the favourite struggled to let down on the firm track.
“At the top of the straight I thought I was going to pick him up quite easily but on that firm track he just struggled to catch him late,” Berry said.