After spending two weeks in self-isolation after an abbreviated holiday to the United States, you would have thought Kel and Jacqui Greenough would’ve been excited about heading to Sandown Park on Thursday night.
That was until the box draw for the star-laden Group 3 Easter Gift (515m) came out.
The Greenoughs’ dual Group 2 winner Often Imitated (box 8), the winner of 19 of her 44 starts and 11 from 25 over 515m at Sandown, is the $23 outsider in one of the best fields you will see anywhere in Australia this year.
“It looked like a nice race for her after a short break, but after seeing the field I thought that was a dumb move!” Kel Greenough offered ruefully.
“It’s a beauty. You’ve got the Melbourne Cup winner (Whiskey Riot), Australian Cup winner (Fernando’s Riot), along with Black Opium and Hard Style Rico.
“You couldn’t have assembled a better field. We’re probably the weak link.”
The depth of the Easter Gift field is underlined by the fact that Often Imitated is set to start at a double-figure quote for just the third time in almost half a century of starts, while Fernando’s Riot, which has won four of his last five, including the Australian Cup, is an $11 chance with TAB.
“I think it was Bert Bryant who said to me once that ‘Anything can happen in a race’ and that’s our only hope,” said Greenough.
“Realistically, I think we’re probably a 100/1 chance from box eight.
“If she’d drawn inside somewhere, she might’ve been able to get a run up on the fence and run a place with a bit of luck.
“If I was a punter I don’t know who I’d back. I’d hate to think any trainer would be confident of winning the race.”
After cutting short a long-planned American holiday due to Coronavirus concerns, the Greenoughs were ‘locked down’ for a fortnight.
They returned with a bang last Saturday night at The Meadows (recouping lost holiday expenses) when Jacqui escaped from their Pearcedale property to oversee a winning double courtesy of You Tell Me and One Night Only.
“It was like a night out for Jacqui but then she went to the dining room and she was the only one there. She sent me a photo, saying she was with all her friends!” Greenough laughed.
“Isolation wasn’t a huge problem for us because we’ve got our own property and our own straight track. If I needed dogs trialled, our grandson and a friend did that for us.
“We just couldn’t go out the front gate. Angie (daughter) did our shopping for us and made sure we had the essentials. The main thing is that we’re okay, health-wise.
“We’ll both be going to Sandown on Thursday so it looks like we’ll be spending our night in the car!”
One bright spot to emerge from the Coronavirus gloom is Greenough’s promising duo One Night Only and Captain Dynamite providing some much-needed cheer for their English part-owners.
“They own half-shares in One Night Only and Captain Dynamite,” Greenough explained.
“They’ve got it a lot worse over there at the moment than we have and they’ve been down in the dumps, so it was great for them to win a Saturday night race at The Meadows.
“The draws are all pretty ordinary on Thursday; Often Imitated (8), You Tell Me (7), Better Watch Out (3), Captain Dynamite (7) and One Night Only (8).
“The English guys asked me what’s happening with the wide draws. They have preferential draws over there but I told them this how we do it here. We just need to ride it out.”
Wide draws and COVID-19.