100/1 winners are few and far between, yet on Easter Sunday, Rationally performed her own minor miracle when greeting the judge first at huge odds – the Muswellbrook runner storming home down the outside to win the three-year-old 1100m maiden at Mudgee Race Club for trainer Ben Blay and jockey Mikayla Weir.
Jumping at 100/1 fixed odds on the NSW tote, the Al Maher filly certainly didn’t have things go her own way, after losing out on the early speed battle, before Weir was forced to work to the outside before flashing home and winning in emphatic style.
Blay admitted that he was confident of winning with a furlong to go after Rationally was working her way into a top four spot before putting the afterburners on in the final 50m.
“If you watch the race, she got held up twice and she had to cross heels a bit,” Blay said.
“We were just sitting back behind everyone, and thought fourth or fifth was pretty good but when I saw her starting to come home in that last 200m, I got up and went to the fence and started screaming, ‘here she comes’.
Connections of Rationally never travelled to Mudgee expecting a win, but Blay said his three-year-old had been working a treat.
“I thought maybe a top five finish was pretty reasonable to ask, but I can say, we didn’t go there expecting to win,” Blay laughed.
“Everything was in our favour; we had a good barrier and she had worked really well during the week and she had come on well since her last run.”
Blay joked that connections were still coming to terms with the whirlwind victory, while the moments after the race resulted in a tense wait, with a winner not announced for some time as the judges took their time when looking at the photo finish – Rationally getting home by only 0.08 of a length from Emeriz at the finish, while Hasalake and Excelness finished third to round out the trifecta.
“I didn’t know she had won at all, I thought she might have got there for third, and we were all mulling around for five minutes and waiting for the photos and it took an extremely long time,” Blay said.
“I think she broke the computer she came home that fast.”
Weir and Blay look to be building a nice little partnership with the popular jockey riding all of Blay’s winners to date, and the trainer couldn’t heap anymore praise on to his hoop after their Mudgee win.
“She is very cool under pressure and obviously with barrier three, we wanted to be a bit closer, but she couldn’t keep up early on, and she kept her cool and she changed the plan accordingly as she did and got the win,” Blay said.
“She never gives up, and if it was anyone else on a 100/1 shot for a no one trainer like me, they would say it was running to the price, but she never gave up and that’s why she was able to win.”
Blay, who is a Gundagai product and the son of Snake Gully Cup winning trainer Jim Scobie, has been slowly notching up winners since setting up shop in Muswellbrook, and the young trainer explained Rationally’s win was his first victory as a trainer for owners other than himself or his family.
“It’s a funny story. The owner rang up the race club at Muswellbrook, and said they wanted to send their filly to a trainer. They wanted a younger trainer and wanted to help someone out and Duane (Dowell) sent them our way,” Blay said.
“She is very immature, and she is a year behind her age, and she probably wasn’t going the best, and the owner said we better make a decision quickly as to whether she was going to be a racehorse or a pony club horse.
“To win was crazy, this is our first horse that we have trained for owners and it is such a relief, because you think you can do it, but to do it for other people, it is really gratifying.”
Blay and his team are quickly making a name for themselves on the NSW country racing circuit, with 10 gallopers in work, and other runners such as Alot To Hoffa and Married already winning races for the growing team.