Joe Pride has trained his share of Group One winners and is noted for his prowess with sprinters.
But an ageing stayer holds a special place in Pride’s heart and Destiny’s Kiss has returned the favour with the 10-year-old claiming a second win in the Listed Winter Cup (2400m) at Rosehill – six years after his first.
While he slipped under the punters’ guard despite Pride’s assertions he still had a win in him, Destiny’s Kiss ($26) was met with a rousing reception on Saturday after getting the nod by a short head over Yogi ($5.50) in a photo-finish.
“This is very, very special,” Pride said.
“He was gone at the 600 metres but finds something under pressure.
“And this is a much different race than a few years ago.
“He’s the little Aussie battler up against these big European imported stayers we have now.”
Destiny’s Kiss was having his 97th start and while Pride has always said he will retire the gelding as soon as he shows a lack of interest in racing, that is not the case yet.
“He is a horse who loves life in the stable,” he said.
“And he doesn’t have an arthritic bone in his body which is unusual for a horse who has had even half the racing he has.
“He is the smallest horse in the stable but he has a big heart.
“He is just an old marvel.”
Sam Clipperton had his first ride on Destiny’s Kiss with regular jockey Jay Ford on stablemate Tamarack, an emerging stayer Pride hoped would improve on his last-start ninth in the McKell Cup won by Hush Writer, the $2.45 Winter Cup favourite.
With the lead changing more than once early, New Zealander Big Mike took up the running but again weakened to finish with the tailenders as he did in the McKell Cup.
Hush Writer finished sixth and Tamrack eighth with neither looking like the winner in the straight.
Clipperton has ridden Group One winners in Australia and also had success in Hong Kong but admits the Winter Cup is significant.
“It was my first sit on him but I wasn’t too worried when he was off the bridle at the 600 because Jay Ford told me he would surge,” Clipperton said.
“When he hit his flat spot, he didn’t lose ground and Jay was right, he surged. He wasn’t stopping.
“I wasn”t sure if he got there and I’m just rapt.
“He has been around forever and it’s a credit to Joe and the whole stable.”
Unfortunately for Ford, Tamarack didn’t live up to expectations.
“He was plain,” he said. “Very plain.”
“Nick will be watching at home and will be very, very proud,” Pride said.