IN July last year, long-time breeder and racing administrator, the late John Clift, sat down with Bendemeer trainer Jane Clement and mapped out a plan to get Chrysolaus into this year’s Country Championships Final at Randwick.
The plan came to fruition when the grey, ridden by Rachael Murray, beat a hot field to win the $50,000 Wild Card (1280m) at Muswellbrook on Sunday in front of the biggest crowd at Muswellbrook since cup day last November.
Clement immediately booked Murray to ride the horse in the Final.
Chrysolaus ($11) scored by half a length from the Goulburn-trained Ashjata ($5), ridden by Thomas Huet and that horse also earns a place in the $400,000 final at Randwick on Saturday.
Kyogle Town (Leanne Henry), one of the outsiders at $41, flashed home from near last to finish third while the $3.80 favourite Invienna faded in the last 200m to snare fifth.
John Clift, a long-time chairman and life member of Tamworth Jockey Club and a life member of the Thoroughbred Breeders Association bred Chrysolaus and raced the horse until his death in February.
His family was represented by his eldest daughter Kim Powell, the vice president of the Tamworth Jockey Club.
“It was dad’s plan to have the horse in the Final,” she said.
“I am the eldest of seven children and I know all of them were willing the horse to win for dad and I am sure dad would be looking down and feeling so proud.”
Clement was in tears as she walked into the parade yard to greet Chrysolaus as Murray returned to scale on the grey.
“This is the biggest thrill of my career,” she said.
“I have been training since I was 20 and I am 48 now.
“John and I had a plan and we stuck to it and that is why we spelled him and then gave him two trials.”
Chrysolaus resumed for an eighth in the Scone Championships qualifier and then ran second in the Armidale Newmarket to prepare him for the Muswellbrook race, the last chance to qualify for the Final.
Murray had Chrysolaus in fifth place early and three wide to the turn then set out after the leaders.
She went to the lead at the 200m then held off the Danny Williams-trained Ashjata (Huet) which rattled home late.