By HARRY CLARKE
A CELEBRATION in outback Queensland continues following an emphatic win in the Country Cups Challenge final by 5-year-old gelding Echo Point, owned by a syndicate from the Barcaldine and Longreach region which almost made the Doomben grandstand shake on Saturday.
Echo Point romped home in what jockey Les “Bubba” Tilley described to the Caller as “the textbook ride” as the horse sped away a length a half clear of Vinasta and Centaur, earning $116,000 and almost doubling the horse’s total prize money in the process.
Part owner Willie Chandler said it was a dream come true for members of the syndicate, most of whom had travelled from Barcaldine to Brisbane to watch the race.
“He just tried his bloody heart out. It’s unbelievable,” Chandler said.
“That’s why you go into syndication, isn’t it? To get a horse like that and end up in Brisbane.
“He shotgunned off the corner and we chased him down that grandstand, I can tell ya. It’s huge for us, this type of win. It’s everything. You dream of it but it doesn’t always happen. The planets have to align, anything can go wrong, but (trainer) Raymond’s had it all set up.”
The horse joined Raymond Williams’ Emerald-based stable in October under controversial circumstances.
Previously, Echo Point had notched up five wins from nine starts under Barcaldine trainer Todd Austin, who become the subject of a stewards inquiry after allegedly instructing a jockey to use a jigger on a horse at this year’s Birdsville Cup.
Austin was at Doomben, joining in the celebrations with the horse’s connections.
“I’ve known Todd and Toni (Austin) for my whole life – 28 years – and they’ve been special people in my life, so it’s so great to be giving something back,” Tilley said.
“That one meant a fair bit. I’ve won a Country Stampede and I’ve won a Country Cups Challenge now, and they’ve been for two great people – Todd and Toni Austin. Today they’ve had the faith in me to put me on the horse, and for me to get the win for them is pretty special.”
In this year’s Country Stampede a thrilling photo finish resulted in Chinchilla-owned galloper Dynamic Verse claiming victory after a sensational ride by jockey Angela Jones.
Dynamic Verse was trained by part owner Leonard “Michael” Mawn in Chinchilla until it was transferred to Pat Webster in Toowoomba only a fortnight ago.
Mawn and his wife Jo Rayner have had great success at Doomben, taking out the Battle of the Bush with Hanover Square when they last brought a horse to town three years ago.
“Patty Webster’s done a great job with that horse in the last couple of weeks – fantastic,” Mawn said.
Part owner Tim Turner added: “Michael has done a fantastic job with Dynamic Verse. We call the horse Bart. He came to Michael from the Sunshine Coast and Michael’s really sharpened him up.
“That’s the way he normally wins his races – he sweeps them in the last 50m to 100m and he did it again today. Good on ya Bart.”
Later on Saturday Jo Raynor was given double the reason to celebrate after another horse she owns, A Pretty Penny, won its first start at Goondiwindi.