This season has been dominated by racing’s biggest names but it was left to two of its characters to share the spotlight at Randwick on Wednesday.
David Mills, a veteran trainer known for his karaoke skills, and John Steinmetz, a hobby trainer who has three horses on his books, both celebrated rare city victories.
Two-year-old Stocky won the Australian Turf Club Handicap (1100m) for Mills, arriving in the final bounds to score in a photo finish.
Just 35 minutes later Minh Khai gave Steinmetz his first winner at Randwick in 21 years, his last being Pay Cash who was successful in 1992 at odds of 70-1.
Mills and Steinmetz train out of the same stable block at Warwick Farm and Stocky and Minh Khai are housed four stalls apart.
Steinmetz, who also holds down a full-time job, has no staff other than a track rider and relies on Mills when he is unable to be at the stables.
“We’re good mates,” Steinmetz said.
“For our licences we have to have a person to supervise if we’re not there so I’m his and he’s mine.
“We usually have a drink or two afterwards so we’ll make sure we enjoy one tonight.”
Minh Khai came into Wednesday’s race following back-to-back wins at Warwick Farm.
She appeared to be awkwardly placed coming to the home turn but scooted along the inside to run out a convincing 1-1/4 length winner in the TAB Rewards Handicap (2000m).
“To win at Randwick is what people stay in racing for,” Steinmetz said.
“Most of the time my trips would be to places like Bathurst and Port Macquarie so to even just get three runs in town, I’m thrilled.”
Steinmetz, whose father was a bookmaker on the NSW north coast, is hoping to aim Minh Khai at one of the country Cups in that region.
He has earmarked both the Taree and Port Macquarie Cups but concedes he might need to find another race for her in town until the first of those is run in mid-August.
“I’ve taken a lot of bad horses there so I’d love to take her to the Taree Cup,” he said.