Another Coldie (Image: Racing Photos)
For most of the Melbourne Cup Carnival Country Series, Darren Weir seemed to be giving his regional rivals a fighting chance.
After seven events in the eight-heat series restricted to stables that do not boast a metropolitan base, the champion trainer did not even have a representative in the $200,000 final.
Then, on Wednesday last week, the final heat was run at Bendigo. Weir won the 1400m event with Night's Watch and also had the third placegetter Another Coldie, who scraped into the final field as first emergency.
On Thursday they fought out the 1600m final. Another Coldie, who only gained a start after the scratching of Mandalay Bay, turned the tables on his stablemate to land the $110,000 winner's purse.
"There have been heats for this series all over the country (in Victoria) and most of my horses running in it ran terribly," Weir said.
"I couldn't get a horse in the final until Bendigo the other day, when these two horses finished first and third. They franked that form terrifically today.
"I think Night's Watch has got a really big future. He'll probably be winning better races down the track, but today was Another Coldie's day."
Another Coldie, a four-year-old son of Snitzel who was sent to Weir by his breeders the Lindsay family, has now won five of his 14 starts and $204,675 in stakes.
"They knocked back a big sum of money for him, so it's a good result that they get this win with him today," Weir added.
Another Coldie ($7), who is prepared out of Weir's Warrnambool base, defeated $3 favourite Night's Watch, who works at Ballarat, by one length, with I Am The Dark, who is trained by Doug Whitworth at Stawell, the best of the non-Weir brigade, two-and-three-quarter lengths away third.
Whitworth knew exactly what he was up against, tackling the might of the country's leading trainer on racing's biggest stage, but got a kick out of the day even though he was forced to settle for third placing.
"It's been a great day for my owners, a great day for me and we've still picked up $18,000," he said.
"It's been a great initiative by Racing Victoria and the VRC."