A temperamental mare with a penchant for fast food and beer has eaten up the ground to win the prestigious Doncaster Mile at Randwick.
Nettoyer, whose trainer Wendy Roche is known for her work with eccentric horses, stormed home to beat some big names on Saturday under a confident and heady ride from James Innes Jr.
The win was a first at Group One level for both trainer and jockey and was decisive as Nettoyer ($41) swooped on the leaders to beat Star Of The Seas ($20) by half a length, with Brandenburg ($7.50) another short half-head third.
Favourite Melody Belle ($6) was a close fourth under her top weight of 57kg.
“I don’t know what I’m going to do because all the restaurants are shut. We normally stop at the Doncaster and get beers so I don’t think we can do that either,” Roche said.
“She’s going to get pizza tonight. She eats supreme pizza with capsicum sauce.”
Roche spends much of her time coaxing the talented Nettoyer to be a racehorse.
“She is a handful,” she said.
“It takes two of us to get a saddle on her in the morning. She bites and fights us.
“On track she is easier to get the saddle but getting her to the stalls is a nightmare.
“All week I couldn’t ride her. I just freshened her. She bit the strapper in the head and he had to get stitches.”
And Nettoyer’s moodiness aside or perhaps because of it, Roche was confident she could win and told everyone she knew the same.
“I’ve told everyone she would win today and she’s won,” she said.
For Innes, the son of retired jockey James Innes, the victory was both emotional and satisfying.
Roche had originally hoped Deanne Panya could ride because she is a natural lightweight and rides work at Warwick Farm but she had chosen to ride in a different zone when jockeys were asked to declare preferences because of COVID-19.
“Deanne couldn’t ride her because she had chosen to ride in the Kembla area,” Roche said.
That opened the way for Innes.
“It is very surreal,” he said.
“It still hasn’t sunk in and I don’t think it will for a little while.
“Full credit to Wendy and her team and also to my manager. He had to chase pretty hard to get me on.
“The fact I can ride light (51.5kg) and get an opportunity like this, it is just unbelievable.”
Even pre-race, Nettoyer was in a mood.
“I was still trying to catch my breath getting her to the gates,” Innes said.
“She began only fair. Me and Wendy thought we would be a couple of pairs closer. She just isn’t a horse you can drive the brains out of for the entire mile so I just left her alone.
“When I straightened up, the more confident I was getting.”
Brandenburg’s trainer John Sargent said the three-year-old had done his job for the autumn.
“He ran super, I was very proud of him,” he said.
“Glen Boss gave him a good ride. We gave it our best shot but we were beaten by two better horses on the day.”