By TONY WHITE firstname.lastname@example.org
BATTLING Warwick Farm trainer Mitchell Hudson was brought to tears when his pet horse, For Valour, wrote another remarkable chapter into the history of the $125,000 Black Toyota Ramornie Handicap (1200m) in Grafton yesterday.
Hudson, 47, with only two horses in his care, was in 'dreamland' after For Valour charged down the outside from near last on the home turn to win in a close photo finish.
"Mate, this is just so humbling. I'm in tears, I can't believe it," he said.
"Believe it or not, I thought he was a good thing.
"Everyone laughed at me and said he can't win from barrier 15.
"I just kept telling them, 'don't underestimate this horse'.
"This means the world to me," he added, wiping back tears, "it's a fairytale come true.
"I'm still in shock. I've only got two horses in work, no-one gives me any others. I'm just so proud of this horse. I love him.
"I bred this horse, set him for this race after finishing fourth last year and we've come through. Bloody unbelievable.
"I've got a mate (part-owner Paul Jensen) on the bones of his arse. He really needed this, and so did I."
The six-year-old gelding is raced by Hudson's wife, Carol, and Jensen.
Ridden by Toowoomba jockey Lacey Morrison, the first woman to win a Ramornie, For Valour started at $41 and scored by a long head from Words of Magic ($16) and Dan City ($41).
Local contenders Umatrick finished an unlucky fourth, and $2.10 favourite Starlactic, a brave fifth.
Hudson is the son of long-time Sydney trainer Frank Hudson.
"He's been my continual driving force, a great mentor. He and Mum, Enid, have been behind me all the way," Hudson said.
"Dad rang after the race and said he thought For Valour might have been underdone, but he said I was right and knew what I was doing. He's over the moon. So am I."
Licensed for 20 years, Hudson worked as a strapper and foreman for his father before branching out on his own.
He bred For Valour from the mare Quick Glance, but because a mate in the horse couldn't afford to keep him, For Valour was raced on lease.
When the lease ran out two months ago, Hudson begged, borrowed and scraped up enough cash to buy out the lease and race him with his wife and Jensen. He is also great mates of the McLeod and Sweeney families, stabling For Valour with Phil McLeod.
For Valour has now won seven races and more than $300,000 in stakes.
Wayne Lawson, trainer of Starlactic, said the race was not run to suit his charge.
"They flew up front. All the run on horses beat him," he said, referring to the hectic tempo set up front.
"There was plenty of pressure on there. Good luck to the winner. We'll live to fight another day."
For Valour covered the 1200m in 1:08.45, not far away from Cangronde's record time of 1:08.28.
Umatrick's trainer Felicity Firth said her horse was 'unlucky'.
"He got up on the fence, but just couldn't get out, got jammed up and couldn't chase when he wanted," she said.
"It was a very good run."