Prior to Monday’s Bankstown Sports Club Forbes Cup (1600 metres) 2017 winning trainer Trevor Sutherland gave a simple prediction regarding his two runners, veteran Willy White Socks and reigning champion Gentleman Max.
“I’d just lean towards Willy White Socks,” he said, labelling the gelding a red-hot chance.
That proved bang on as apprentice hoop Billy Owen – in his second stint in the professionals after initially retiring while still a teenager – produced a 10 out of 10 ride to steer the six-year-old to a half-length win.
“Maybe I should become a form analyst,” Sutherland laughed.
“I’m very happy with this horse. He raced super the other day (to finish second) at Narrandera and he’s just a little horse that’s getting better and better all the time and he deserved this.”
The victory was Willy White Socks’ ninth from 64 career starts and the $16,630 winner’s cheque pushes his career earnings above $200,000, which isn’t bad considering how much Sutherland picked him up for.
“We found him in a paddock and paid $2000 for him,” Sutherland exclaimed.
Jumping from barrier seven as a $7.50 chance Willy White Socks settled centre-field as Connie Greig’s Our Sarastro – which eventually faded to come last – and Terry Croft’s No Escape set the early pace.
He was caught wide though, wider than Sutherland and Owens had planned and further to the front of the field as well.
But that didn’t worry either the hoop or the horse as the pair pushed past No Escape at the 200 mark and held off challenges from Luke Pepper’s Marquee ($9.50) and Matthew Stephens’ Charlie Royale ($17), they finished second and third respectively.
“All credit to the horse, he’s tough, and Trev. Things didn’t go to plan but with the instructions I got I was happy to be where he was and in a nice rhythm, the horse did the rest,” Owen said, also touching on his return to the saddle after battling with his weight as an up-and-comer.
“It’s been a while, a good six or seven years since I’ve been in the professionals. Since I’ve been back I’ve had some good support from trainers and at the moment things are going good, I just need to keep improving.”
“It’s great to see him doing so well, coming through the picnics and doing so well, and making the best of everything,” Sutherland said of his hoop.