Gary Cowcher is daring to dream of a fairy tale Group 1 victory with home-grown outsider Ruby Girl in Saturday night’s Maturity Classic (525m) at The Meadows.
It was only last month the 59-year-old training novice celebrated his first city success, when Ruby Girl saluted at Sandown Park, and now he finds himself tackling the best young sprinters in the land – Feral Franky, Sennachie and co – for racing’s ultimate prize.
After just two years in the training ranks, Broadford-based Cowcher is on the verge of Group 1 glory.
Ruby Girl has impressed since stepping up to 500m in June.
She claimed a slick Sandown double in 29.46s and 29.63s and a best of day 30.15s Wednesday win at The Meadows, however she faced her acid test in last Saturday’s third Maturity heat, where she was a $25.20 outsider from box eight.
Start A Riot, last start winner of the Group 1 Peter Mosman Opal in Sydney, was the even-money favourite.
Belying her price, Ruby Girl crossed into second place and finished over the top of leader Say Hi ($3.20) in the home straight to score by 1.91 lengths in 29.98s, her eighth win from 16 starts.
“It’s blown me out of the water, to be honest,” Cowcher said.
“I’m just learning the craft myself but I must be doing something right! Especially because I’ve done everything with Ruby Girl – bred her, broke her in.
“I’ve only been training for a couple of years. I used to have other people train my dogs but doing it myself there’s only one person to blame if I muck it up!
“When you’ve got a good dog, it’s not rocket science. You just have to look after them and they’ll do the rest for you.”
After drawing awkwardly in box six for Saturday’s $100,000 to-the-winner Maturity Final, Ruby Girl is the outsider of the field in TAB’s market at $31 but Cowcher is hopeful of defying the odds for the second week running.
“I didn’t give her a chance last week,” Cowcher offered.
“There was a lot of speed on her inside but I thought if she can get around the bend and be in the first four, they’ll know she’s there.
“She’s got a strong motor on the way home. She hit top gear and away she went.
“It’s a fair buzz just to get there. I cheer them home in a tier 3 at Healesville so I don’t know what I’ll do if she was able to win on Saturday.”
Remarkably, Maturity finalist Ruby Girl is one of only two greyhounds Cowcher trains; the other being her Cosmic Rumble – Go Go Treetment litter brother Bump’s Nugget, which boasts the similarly impressive record of six from 19.
“There’s not much between them; it’s just taken Bump’s Nugget a bit longer to mature but he’s got his head together now,” Cowcher said.
“I knew they had the ability but I started them off in the country, just putting them where they could win. When they’re on song, they run home like demons.
“Their mother, Go Go Treetment, only won six out of 50 but she won two over 600m at The Meadows, ran 29.49s at Sandown and made the semi-finals of the Launching Pad.
“There were only three pups in the Cosmic Rumble litter, which was her first, and she’s had a second litter to Awesome Project. They’re nine months old and I’ve kept the five of them.”