There won’t be a more popular winner at Carrathool on Saturday if the Russell Hogan-trained Cooee March salutes in the 2023 Carrathool Cup.
The nine-year-old is an 85-start veteran and his victories in the 2018 Hillston Cup, 2019 Hay and Cobar Cups have cemented his place in the NSW country racing history books.
Tomorrow, he can add another chapter to his stellar country racing career by making it a hat-trick of wins in the Carrathool Cup.
The Dane Shadow gelding won the race in 2019 and 2020 – both times for jockey Michael Heagney – and follow meeting abandonments in 2021 and 2022, Cooee March finally gets his chance to land a very unique Carrathool treble.
“I can tell you one thing; he will be trying his heart out,” Hogan said.
“It would be nice to win a third one and to be honest, I’ll probably try and keep him going next year and try and win it again before he finally retires.”
The Griffith galloper returned from a seven-week let-up in the 2023 Braidwood Cup earlier this month when flashing late to finish fourth, beaten just over fourth lengths by Bon Frankie, which coincidently races in town tomorrow in the Rosehill Gardens Highway Handicap.
“I took him to Braidwood, and he ran really well,” Hogan said.
“He went out for a good spell, and it’s taken a while for him to come back, but at Braidwood he showed signs that he is back to his best.
“He got back and flew past four of them and I think he is in for a big race.”
Carrathool race on dirt, and Hogan said the unique racecourse and hot conditions will suit his old stager.
“He’s lucky to pick up a cheque on grass, but he loves the dirt,” Hogan laughed.
“He likes Queanbeyan too, and he’s won three or four there, but he generally goes a lot better on the dirt and he loves it at Carrathool.
“It will be hot; they are saying 40 degrees, and the trouble can be the hot breeze out there, but he will be right because he is worked in it every day.”
It is a good Carrathool Cup field, with the likes of Dan McCarthy-trained Northernero and Doug Gorrel-trained Would Be King taking on the $22,000 event over the 1400m journey, but Hogan stressed that Mick Heagney will have every chance to win on Cooee March.
“Mick Heagney is back on him, and I had to put him back on and give him a chance to win a third one,” Hogan said.
“You never know in these races, and he is a nine-year-old, but he is working the house down and he looks an absolute treat.
“Plus, he is very fit, and I’ve got him spot on; I’ve been sprinting him over 1000m at home and he’s running home in 33 (seconds for the last 600m).”
Interestingly, Cooee March was originally in the care of Chris Waller, and Hogan explained that he was one of a few equine hand-me-downs from his good friend and Vietnam ward comrade, Geoff Grimish.
The Order of Australia Medal recipient has bred and raced horses with military-themed monickers, and Cooee March is one five gallopers that Grimish has given to Hogan over the years.
“We were in Vietnam together, and he has given me a few over the years, and it’s normally because they are not good enough for the city,” Hogan said.
“He rang me one day when I was training in Queanbeyan, and he said he had one and I laughed and said, ‘I can’t afford any of your horses’, but he said he was giving him to me.”
Cooee March kicked off his career way back in 2016 when finishing fifth at Queanbeyan, and he won his maiden at Holbrook in 2017 before going on to win 12 races, five country cups, and over $170,000 in prizemoney, but Hogan explained it took a little time to get his galloper right.
“Geoff sent him down, and I put him around Queanbeyan, and he ran around with his head on his side; he was pinching his stones, so I got the vet from Bungendore in, and cut them out, and worked him again three days later and he went straight,” Hogan said.
“We’ve never looked back since and he’s won 12 races and he’s just been a great horse.”
Hogan conceded that this year’s Carrathool Cup will be one of his last, and when Cooee March finished racing, he will most likely hang up the binoculars.
“I’m getting close to giving it away,” Hogan said.
“At 74, I’ve nearly had enough. My son bought me a ranger Ute, and I want to travel and see some of my old mates, and it will all depend on if we plan to go back to Carrathool next year.”