Working at one of Australia’s most revered thoroughbred farms as a teenager helped shape Sam Kavanagh’s approach to racing and life.
A decade later, Widden Stud could also have a profound influence on Kavanagh’s ambition to establish himself as one of the leading trainers in Sydney.
Widden’s Antony Thompson honoured a pledge to support Kavanagh’s Rosehill stable when he sent him a Redoute’s Choice filly to train and the results were on show at Canterbury on Wednesday.
The filly, which made her racing debut as Zestful, seems destined to win a better race than an off-season midweek event and that’s good news for Kavanagh as he tries to compete with trainers like Chris Waller.
“I spent a year there (at Widden) and then went overseas after,” Kavanagh said.
“I was an 18-year-old kid working in Adelaide in the racing scene, working for my dad,” Kavanagh said.
“You know what a lot of trainers’ sons are like. You think you are bombproof but Antony and his team pulled me into line.
“It’s where I met my fiancee so Widden has been a huge part of our lives.
“When we moved to Sydney we were sort of struggling for horses. Antony said ‘look I’ll find you a nice one’ and down came this Redoute’s Choice filly.”
After missing the start, Zestful ($3.60) raced in an awkward spot in the second half of the field in the Hyland Race Colours Handicap but Kerrin McEvoy was able to thread a run through the inside when he needed it most.
The three-year-old still had four lengths to make up from the turn but she had the race won at the 100m when she made run bid between horses.
In a matter of strides she joined the leader Briefness ($3) and then drew clear to beat the favourite by a length.
Joe Pride can do no wrong with his team of sprinters this season and while Wednesday’s winner Alias isn’t the best in his stable, the trainer cherishes every win.
“My wife Kylie is one of owners so it’s even better,” Pride said.
Alias did not settle into Hong Kong racing but his Australian career is taking off with his Canterbury win taking his record to four victories in six starts for Pride.