Keith Dryden can’t remember how much Halfpenny Gate cost but he’s pretty sure he got a bargain.
The Canberra trainer brought him to Rosehill on Saturday for the Highway Handicap for country horses and landed first prize despite Koby Jennings taking him to the fence which Dryden thought would be no-man’s land.
His win took his earnings close to $100,000 and Dryden said he believed he had been a bargain.
“We bought him over lunch,” Dryden said.
“The more we had to drink, the dearer he got.
“But I know we didn’t pay much. He’s no champion but he keeps earning prize money.”
Dryden said his only instruction to Jennings was to get off the rail on Halfpenny Gate ($4.80) on the heavy track.
“I told Koby he must get off the fence but I’m glad he used his initiative when he couldn’t,” he said.
After putting Halfpenny Gate better than midfield in the early stages, Jennings came up inside Coolcat Dancer ($26) when he was unable to find a wider passage.
Halfpenny Gate won by a head with a half head to favourite Hermosa Beach ($3.40).
All three placegetters are from the Canberra area which has produced many Highway Handicap winners since the races were added to Saturday metropolitan meetings in October.
Dryden said options for the five-year-old included the first heat of the Country Championship series at Goulburn or the Bega Cup.
“I’d like to get him into to the Canberra Cup in March so we will sit down and discuss the next step,” he said.