gelding ready to fire
By BRAD GREENSHIELDS
IT'S Derby Day at Flemington, there's a crowd of 100,000 and you've got a colt entered into the feature race that hasn't won a race. You've spent 18 months preparing your horse and you know while most others are fancied, your entry is trained to stay the full 2500m. You turn to jockey Brian Hibberd and tell him to go forward at the 1000m and take off. Turning the famous Derby into a true staying test, those with a turn of foot have nothing left in the tank and your horse returns to scale to the accolades of the large throng as it breaks it's maiden status. That's the story for Coffs Harbour trainer Gordon Yorke at the 1990 Victoria Derby with Fire Oak and it's a walk down memory lane that he often likes to take. Tomorrow's Sawtell Cup sees the Yorke-Fire Oak connection again come to the fore as Fire Warrior, the six-year-old son of the Derby winner tries to take out the prize. "There aren't many similarities really," Yorke said when comparing the two. "Probably similar in the courage but where this fella's lucky, he has got a real quick turn of foot." That turn of foot comes from the breeding as Fire Warrior has some Golden Slipper winning blood in him as he's from a Rory's Jester mare. Twelve months ago Yorke had plans of entering Fire Warrior in this year's Coffs Harbour Gold Cup. Unfortunately a knee chip that needed to be removed put paid to those plans and the gelding is making a first-up start tomorrow after a 12 month spell. In that last start on Grafton Cup Day, Fire Warrior was beaten by one and a half lengths by Jenks but tomorrow the 20-1 shot faces his opponent nine kilos better off thanks to the 4kg claim for apprentice jockey Yuji Ozawa. From here Yorke will be looking to greater distances in the next couple of months and again try and set Fire Warrior for biggest race this town has. "Hopefully we'll be looking at heading down for the Taree, Port Macquarie, Gosford and Wyong Cups, they're in the mix all going well," he said. "Ultimately next year, here. "That's what I want to win. "I think you've got to win your own cup. "I've been lucky in that I've been to Wyong and I've won that, been to Gosford and won that. "You've got to win your local cup, if you don't you're not fair dinkum." Frisco's Harem and Jenks have been installed as the equal favourites for the Sawtell Cup by racing journalist Chris Scholtz.