KING OF KINGS
By TONY WHITE
JOCKEY Michael Cahill's thrilling win aboard King Rex in yesterday's $125,000 Ramornie Hcp (1200m) at Grafton added a unique chapter to the feature race's long history.
The 38-year-old Brisbane-based hoop joined his younger brother Mathew as a winner of the prestigious July Racing Carnival event.
Mathew, 36, won the 1998 Ramornie aboard Kidlat. Yesterday he finished fourth on For Valour. The Cahills are the only brothers to win the Ramornie, first run in 1917.
"Winning this is a tremendous thrill," Cahill said after the Stephen Hood-trained four-year-old beat hot favourite Mastermind and a hard-charging Sir Dan, trained locally by John Shelton, in a tight finish with less than a length separating the first four horses.
"Our family has a lot of history at Grafton.
"Dad (Ossie) was closely involved with the Grafton Cup winner Phos (1949) and I've also been lucky enough to win a Cup on Desk Top Lover (2001)."
Prior to Parkes-born Cahill moving to his current base in Brisbane, he spent many months riding out of Grafton for NSW country trainers Jack Gallagher and Jim Milton.
While records show the Cahills as the only brothers to win the Ramornie, Bill Wade won the event in 1961, 1966 and 1968, while his son John snared the race aboard Razor Sharp in 1981.
Cahill, the winner of three Group One races, including this year's Stradbroke aboard St Basil, began his career in Cowra, the small mid-western NSW township where his father still trains.
Subsequently he has forged an international career, leaving Brisbane for Hong Kong in February 2002 then crossing to Macau where he was the leading rider.
While Cahill is accustomed to big-race success, for Rosehill trainer Stephen Hood, King Rex's win was the biggest of his career.
King Rex, which has won nearly $240,000, began his racing under astute Dubbo trainer Tom Mulholland, but due to his ability and a 30-year friendship between Stephen and his father Michael Hood with King Rex's partowner, Dubbo bookmaker Peter Carolan, the gelding was transferred to Hood's care.
"This is unbelievable, but it was a team effort," Hood said.
"Peter (Carolan), Tom (Mulholland) and partowner Gary Kimmorley and dad. I regularly speak to Tom. I'm not taking all the accolades. I've known all of them for 30 years.
"I haven't improved the horse. He was always good and still is."
The plan to win this year's Ramornie was hatched some six months ago.
"Everything has just fallen into place, it's unbelievable," Hood said.
"Dad watched the horse work last Thursday morning and declared after that he would win today. He was right."
Cahill gave King Rex a perfect ride up close to the lead in a fast-run race.
"I got a great run behind the pace and got out at the 200 metres. Stephen said the last part of his race would be the best and it was," Cahill said.
Mastermind looked home at the 150m but King Rex doggedly hauled the Bruce McLachlan galloper in to score by a half-length. Sir Dan, which also ran third last year, charged home along the rails to just miss. John Carlton winner Umatrick finished sixth.