Cathleen still smiling after Free Standing's win
IT'S been a few days since Coffs Harbour trainer Cathleen Rode had the biggest win of her 18-year-long career but she admits she's still on cloud nine.
Rode hasn't been able to wipe the smile off her face since Free Standing claimed victory in the Country Championships Final at Royal Randwick.
"It's been amazing. Definitely one off my bucket list," Rode said.
Incredibly, until the Equiano gelding won the Highway Handicap at the track in December, Rode had never had a starter at Randwick.
Now it's a track that holds the greatest of memories for her and the giant killing performance by the four year-old she lovingly calls 'Charlie'.
"He's my baby," she said.
It was a win that had many punters in Coffs Harbour roaring as their local hope caused a big upset paying $32.20 on the tote for the win and $7.50 the place.
Aided by a clever ride from Blake Shinn, who took advantage of barrier one, Free Standing shot through along the inside on the turn and safely held the late closers After All That and Not For Export to win by two and a half lengths..
Shinn, who has the 2008 Melbourne Cup among his list of achievements, was thrilled with the win. It was a sweet stroke of luck for him though as he only obtained the ride on the Equiano gelding because he couldn't make the weight for Pumpkin Pie.
"He (Free Standing) couldn't have been presented any better here," Shinn said.
"He got a great draw, the breaks went our way and it's just beautiful to do it for the people behind this horse."