Jockey Tommy Berry said he hadn’t heard a welcome like it and trainer Terry Robinson was moved to the point of tears after the crowd roared their appreciation following Art Cadeau’s thrilling Kosciuszko victory.
With the end of Sydney’s lockdown this week, 10,000 spectators were allowed on-course at Randwick on Saturday, the first time a Sydney racetrack has opened its gates to the public since the pandemic hit hard at the start of winter.
Berry, who has won much bigger races than a Kosciuszko, was awestruck by the deafening cheers as he brought the South Coast-trained gelding back to scale.
“I’ve had some pretty big wins at Randwick in my career but that is as big a cheer as I’ve ever got,” Berry said.
“It just shows you that people have gone through such tough times, not just the racing industry but so many people have had to endure lockdown.
“That was just raw emotion from everyone so happy just to be back at the track.”
Berry said all credit for Art Cadeau’s victory lay with Robinson and his staff.
The five-year-old was having his first run since taking out the Country Championships in April and many doubted whether he could win the $1.3 million race first-up.
Robinson, the son of legendary horseman Kevin, said he knew Art Cadeau would be strong at the end of 1200 metres, but he feared he couldn’t chase down 2019 Kosciuszko winner Handle The Truth when that horse kicked clear.
“No. I didn’t think he was ever going to get there,” Robinson said.
“I knew he’d be strong and I always knew he’d just find. He just keeps giving. He’s never beat that horse.”
Robinson has also enjoyed an accomplished career in harness racing but he rated Saturday’s Kosciuszko win as a career highlight.
Fittingly, it came on the same day as Menangle Park hosts a race in memory of his father.
“Tonight at Menangle Park, it’s actually my dad’s memorial race,” Robinson said
“We can’t go to that, but maybe he’s looking after me.”
Art Cadeau ($4 fav) arrived just in time to nail Handle The Truth ($7) by a head with Spiranac ($12) zooming home late to grab third another three-quarters of a lengths in arrears.