Cobar Miners Race Club may have to start pre-engraving their trophies with Connie Greig’s name on them following the trainer’s sensational run in their feature races.
Greig won the 2019 and 2021 editions of the Cobar Cup with Naoko, while the veteran mare also won the 2020 Cobar Picnic Cup for Greig.
Incredibly, Naoko won the race with three different jockeys, with Rasit Yetimova winning in 2019, Leandro Ribeiro in 2020 and Chelsea Ings in 2021.
“When Naoko did it three years in a row, you knew she just loved it there,” Greig said.
“Horses have to like the dirt, because it can be tough at Cobar, and I remember with her third one, we weren’t going to take her, but she just loved it so much there.”
Greig won her fourth Cobar feature race in four years on Saturday, again taking out the Cobar Cup, but this time with Valadyium.
Ridden by apprentice Jake Barrett, the five-year-old sat just off the pace but finished with a strong run to win by 1.09 lengths from recent Bourke Cup winner and the Rodney Robb-trained Knee Slapper (Elissa Meredith), while in third was the Janelle Galea-trained Saw That Coming (Chelsea Ings).
Valadyium, who won the Bedgerabong and Condobolin picnic cups in February, finished fourth to Knee Slapper in the Bourke Cup when carrying 68.5kg, some 9.5kg heavier than the winner, and 6.5kg heavier than the second-placed Allez Rev.
Punters came for both Knee Slapper and Allez Rev in Saturday’s Cobar Cup, and Greig said a huge weight turnaround, where Valadyium basically met them on equal footing when only carrying an extra half-kilogram, meant she was able to turn the tables on her rivals.
“They were all backing Knee Slapper and Allez Rev because they beat her at Bourke, but she had nearly 10kg more on her back,” Greig said.
“We went there pretty confident, and I thought weight wise, we had them covered because after Jake’s claim, she carried 55.5kg, and he was more confident than anyone.
“He knew how well she went at Moree the start before when finishing third and especially back racing in that grade.”
The Dubbo trainer said it was an eye-opening experience for Barrett at Cobar, with the young jockey new to riding on dirt tracks.
“You need horses to be able to run on the dirt to win at Cobar, and it was funny, because Jake hasn’t ridden on many dirt tracks before,” Greig said.
“Jake described it as standing on a beach and getting sand-blasted in a windstorm, and they were saying all day you had to be up front, and that you couldn’t win from behind.”
Despite being a strong finisher, Valadyium still made ground when coming from off the pace to win at Cobar.
“She sat off them; I think she sat fourth, and Knee Slapper led, and it always leads,” Greig said.
“At Bourke she couldn’t run it down with the big weight, but at Cobar, with the light weight, she ran up to them and won easily.”
Following their cup win at Cobar, Greig joked that she received the biggest trophy she has ever seen, and she praised the Cobar Miners Race Club for looking after their trainers.
“It’s the biggest trophy I’ve ever seen,” Greig laughed.
“I never saw it until I won the race and I have the Ardlethan Picnic Cup sitting beside it right now, and it would be an eighth of the size – it’s ginormous.
“It was great at Cobar. We got a big gear bag for winning, two rugs, shampoo, scraper, brush, head collar, lead and a crystal decanter and silver serving tray – it’s crazy.
“They kept coming up and reminding us to get something to eat and drink, and not to forget your $100 per horse.
“Plus, it was a huge crowd and just a good day.”
Greig and Barrett had a good day at Cobar, combining for a double when Everyone won the 1200m Class One Handicap.
Clayton Gallagher also had a good day in the saddle, riding a treble, and fellow Dubbo trainer Brett Robb trained a winning double.
For full Cobar results, readers can click here.