Dryden caps off strong season with Cup victory and premiership

Dip Me Lid wins the South Coast Timber Eden Cup for trainer Keith Dryden and jockey Damon Budler. Photo: Bradley Photos.

He might be 75 years of age, but Keith Dryden isn’t slowing down.

Despite having what he described as a “lean” finish to the season, the veteran trainer prepared 40 winners in 2020/21, winning the Canberra trainer’s premiership in the process. 

“I always set myself a target,” Dryden said. 

“My target is 20 winners at Canberra and that is kind of my benchmark, and then we pick up winners around the place.”

“We had a bit of a lean run the last month or so, but everyone goes through that. We had some young horses come in to work, while the older and more experienced ones, like Handle The Truth, they were out in the paddock.”

A lean finish to the season was a distant memory on Sunday, with the Canberra trainer preparing the winner of South Coast Timber Eden Cup at the Sapphire Coast

Dip Me Lid was taken to the front by apprentice hoop Damon Budler and the Dryden galloper was game to the very end, holding off Howlowcanyougo and Zounique in a very tight finish to the 1612m event. 

“He is a nice horse and a hard horse to beat when he gets to the lead,” Dryden said. 

“I said to the owners the start before, it was a bit short for him and to have a little something on him next start. 

“He come in from $21 to $9 and the owners were pretty pleased.”

Dryden hopes to have his stable stalwarts back on track soon and believed it wouldn’t take long to have the team flying once again. 

“We have Handle The Truth back in work, and he is set for The Kosciuszko again, and those sort of horses are all on their way back,” Dryden said.

“It won’t take long, and we will be firing on all cylinders.”

While many trainers in the twilight of their career would be considering handing over the reins, Dryden was adamant he would keep kicking on while the body let him. 

“I’ve been doing it all my life, it gets in your blood,” Dryden said. 

“I don’t intend to give it up anytime soon. You have to do a test with Racing NSW, and only recently did someone come out, and I had to saddle up a horse, put on a bridle, lead it and control it, and while I can do all of that, I’ll still be training.”

Having good people around him and a loyal ownership group has Dryden confident he can keep training winners, although he joked the cold Canberra mornings were getting tougher and tougher. 

“Getting out of bed is a bit harder, it was minus 5 here this morning,” Dryden laughed. 

“We are dealing with fantastic people all the time, there are one or two pricks in this game, but 99.5 percent of people are fantastic.

“Owners can have a whinge, but they are entitled too, they are paying the bills, but I just let it roll off the shoulders and focus on the job.

Dryden and his team will have a busy finish to the racing season, as they look to add to their 40 winners when taking three gallopers to Goulburn today and another two to Royal Randwick tomorrow.