Do You Reckon winning at Flemington (Image: Racing Photos)
Winning $500,000 races is something quite familiar for jockey Kerrin McEvoy but not so for trainer Julius Sandhu, with the Cranbourne-based horseman experiencing a career highlight with the upset win in the Melbourne Cup Carnival Country Final (1600m) of Do You Reckon.
McEvoy's history with the carnival goes back 20 years to when he partnered Brew to victory in the Melbourne Cup, but on Thursday, the So You Think galloper was Sandhu's first-ever carnival runner and do you reckon he was happy with it?
"To let down and hit the line the way he did, it's a big thrill, a special moment," Sandhu said.
The win was just Sandhu's 20th career victory and his first victory at Flemington after taking out his licence in 2018.
"The prizemoney side of it hasn't really sunk in. I'm not thinking too much about that at the minute," he said.
"It's a special feeling to work hard with a horse like that. He's had such a big campaign and to put it all together on a day like today, it's such a big thrill.
"The team at home are tireless, they work so hard every day to make sure that the horses are in good shape.
"It's a massive, massive thrill and privilege to train for Lofty Thoroughbreds, the Lofitis family are just wonderful to train for and they give you all the support you need. It's always about the horse. To win this for them is very special."
In an upset result, Do You Reckon ($26) had a half-length margin over $6.50 favourite Kaplumpich, with another length to $13 Tatunka in third place.
The Melbourne Cup Carnival Country Series is run exclusively for country trainers licensed in Victoria who do not have a metropolitan base nationwide.
The $1.3 million series featured eight $100,000 heats at Murtoa, Cranbourne, Hamilton, Horsham, Seymour, Geelong, Sale and Bendigo, with the first two horses home in each race eligible to run on Kennedy Oaks Day in the $500,000 race.
For McEvoy, the victory was his 50th over the Flemington Spring Carnival and he clearly got a kick out of winning such a big race for a small stable.
"It's a nice money race for connections and a good thrill," he said.
"It's the first time I've met Julius and it's my first ride for him. He said the horse hasn't won at the trip but just use his speed from the barrier and that's what we were able to do and lob into a lovely spot behind the speed and the horse did the rest. It was a good thrill to do that for him."