Jindabyne galloper awakens for tenth career win

On Saturday, Teighan Worsnop guided the Kevin Byrne-trained Force Awakens to victory at Tumbarumba.

The Kevin Byrne-trained Force Awakens made it career victory number ten at Tumbarumba on Saturday, with the 11-year-old finding the front and holding on in the 1020m Benchmark 45 Handicap. 

Ridden by apprentice Teighan Worsnop, the Jindabyne-trained galloper snuck along the rails for victory, pleasing his trainer. 

“It’s very hard to get a jockey to ride him right for me,” Byrne said. 

“A lot of them won’t take him to the front, but when he is out in front, he is one of those old horses that puts in a bit of effort.  

“He did well to win at Tumbarumba; that’s the sort of grade that suits him, and it was good to see him win again.”

A 65-start veteran, the Danerich gelding has been in the money 20 times, earning over $84,000 in prizemoney. 

He’s a bread-and-butter Benchmark 45-50 horse, better suited to the non-TAB and picnic circuit, and that’s where he’s made a career. 

As a maiden, he won a Benchmark 48 Handicap at Cooma back in 2017 and won again on his home track in 2021 and 2022. 

He loves Tumut, winning there twice, and has won at Yass, Dederang, Holbrook, Queanbeyan, and Tumbarumba.

“He has won on soft and everything, but he does his best work on top of the ground, and he likes it hard, and he loves these small country tracks,” Byrne said. 

Interestingly, Force Awakens wasn’t the horse Byrne wanted when originally purchased, and a miscommunication between him and his wife Fay resulted in the gelding accidentally joining the stable.

“It’s funny, I was never originally meant to have him,” Byrne laughed. 

“We had picked out two on Inglis, and I had a darts grand final and left the two horses I wanted with my wife, and I told her which one I wanted to spend more on, and she got mixed up, and we he got him for $6,500.

“I said to her, ‘You can have him’, and well, he had run two seconds when we got him, and he’s won all his races for us, and he’s been a good, honest horse.”

When asked about the secret to Force Awaken’s longevity, Byrne said it all came back to his ‘boss-like’ attitude and life in the paddock. 

“He was sort of sore in the feet when we first got him, and we did a lot of work shoeing him and all that, but he is the kind of horse that you give him one or two gallops, and he fit and right to go,” Byrne said. 

“Plus, he’s the boss around here and fights every other horse; they might have it over him the first two days, but after that, he’s the boss, and everybody knows it.  

“He’s living the life out in a couple-acre paddock, and he feeds in the stable, but otherwise, he gets to do what he wants to do, and we keep it to walking and trotting him, and we might take him for a bit of a swim down at a friend’s dam.”

While winters are cold in Jindabyne, with Byrne and fellow trainer Georgie Boucher turning their horses out over the cooler months, the pair love to take advantage of the spring and summer race seasons. 

Byrne, along with Boucher, will likely head to Buchan on February 10 to target the Victorian picnic meeting.

“It’s too frosty here in winter, and it gets to minus eight or ten, so we’ll keep racing while we can, and we’ll go to Buchan in a few weeks,” Byrne said. 

“They are good days out, and it’s not as much hassle, and our horses are a bit more competitive there.”

While Force Awakens is nearing the end of his career, the old stager is well-loved, and Byrne believes he can win a few more. 

“He can definitely win again; it’s just a matter of finding the right races for him,” Byrne said. 

“He’s been a good old horse, and when he’s done, he won’t be going anywhere. 

“I’ve got to move one day, and we’ll be going to Orange, and he’ll be coming with me no matter what.

“There are about eight of them here, and we haven’t sold them or moved them on because we get too attached.”