A lifetime passion turned to exhilaration for David Kirby and his wife Carol when Pinker Pinker stormed to victory in the Cox Plate.
For more than 30 years the couple have raced and bred horses as a hobby but Pinker Pinker is their first Group One winner.
They race the four-year-old with their children Tracy Kirby, Peter Kirby and Julie Gazdowicz.
Julie is the youngest of the three and has been managing the family’s racing affairs since last year.
“It is great to have a racehorse totally owned by family I think,” Julie said.
“To have all the family here today, Mum and Dad, the kids and their (six) grandchildren is huge.”
“This is the biggest race my dad has ever won and we didn’t expect it.
“On Tuesday we found out she was in and so to win this is unbelievable. A dream come true.”
Pinker Pinker is German for money money and the Kirbys now have plenty of it with Saturday’s $1.8 million winner’s purse.
But their love of horse racing has always been bigger.
“For Dad it has been his hobby,” Julie said. “It has never been about money for him.
“Five weeks ago we got a phone call from someone wanting to buy her off us and they offered a really good price and Dad said ‘no money, she is not for sale’.
“They later asked for a share but she is owned by my family and that is how Dad wanted to keep it.”
Trained by Greg Eurell, Pinker Pinker cost $120,000 and Carol Kirby adores her.
“She is very tough and not frightened of anything,” she said.
“She is a bit pushy.”
David Kirby is 74 and took a while to get through the crowd to the winner’s enclosure.
“That is unbelievable,” Kirby said.
“She is a very honest mare and has improved every time she has raced but she can’t improve on this.
“Only the Melbourne Cup is bigger than this.”
The late Ray Lawson, Gerald Ryan and Greg Eurell have all trained for the Kirbys who sold their last broodmare last year, and their first horse Paraparap died around the same time.
Paraparap was named after the small country township where the Kirbys lived, about 20km south-west of Geelong.
She won the 1982 Easter Cup for them and gave them a lot of success as a broodmare.
“She was quite a good horse and they started breeding with her and then breeding with her foals,” Julie said.
Her stakes winners included Power And Glory and Swell Time Girl, who won a Geelong Oaks Trial Stakes, while another of her descendants was Group Three Autumn Stakes winner Nick On The Run.
They also got one of their biggest thrills when Fame The Spur ran third to Mr Brooker in the 1990 Geelong Cup.
“We have lost count how many horses we have had,” David Kirby said.
Pinker Pinker is now one of just three horses they own. The others are the Ryan-trained Rialio and an unraced two-year-old.
“We started with horses when we were in our 30s and now we’ve won a race like this in our in of 70s,” Carol Kirby said.
“I can’t believe it.”