What the Quok! Country owners jubilant as Overpass wins $4 million The Quokka

Josh Parr celebrates following his victory on the Bjorn Baker-trained Overpass in Saturday’s $4 million The Quokka at Ascot. Photo: Western Racepix.

Racing is known as the Sport of Kings, and Cootamundra thoroughbred owners Craig McTavish and Gerard Piffero felt like kings on Saturday afternoon when their galloper Overpass won the inaugural $4 million ‘The Quokka’ at Ascot. 

Trained by Bjorn Baker, Josh Parr rode Overpass ($12) in the 1200m slot holder event, and he got home by the barest of margins to win by 0.04 of a length from the Simon Miller-trained Amelia’s Jewel (Patrick Carbery, $2.60) while in third and 0.64 of a length back was the Ciaron Maher and David Eustace-trained Bella Nipotina (Ben Melham, $4.60).

“It was very much a surreal feeling,” McTavish said. 

“Gerard and I just looked at each other, and I said, ‘Did that just happen?’ and with it being so close, it was all very surreal.”

The Cootamundra Turf Club Treasurer and Piffero have enjoyed a storied run with Overpass, which has now started 21 times for six wins and three placings. 

From humble beginnings, the Vancouver gelding went from a maiden victory at Orange in early 2021 to winning the $200,000 Group 2 Expressway Stakes at Rosehill Gardens and the $750,000 Inglis Sprint at Flemington in early 2022.

The four-year-old has since raced in the $15 million Everest (6th place) at Royal Randwick and the $10 million Golden Eagle (9th place) at Rosehill Garden late last year. 

Following Saturday’s win, the talented sprinter has earned connections over $3.6 million in prize money. 

McTavish and Piffero did not travel to Ascot, and instead, the pair enjoyed the win in town, celebrating the victory as a large Central Hotel crowd roared as Overpass crossed the line in first. 

The local owners would have travelled to Perth to watch the win, but they were a little gun-shy after Overpass was scratched from the $3 Million TJ Smith Stakes at Royal Randwick earlier this month. 

“Gerard, myself and another mate; we went to Sydney to watch him in the TJ Smith, and when we were down there, we found out he was scratched, and half an hour later, we found out that we were going to The Quokka,” McTavish said. 

“At first, it was a bit deflating, to be honest, and if we didn’t spend so much money going to Sydney, we would have gone to Perth, but we got the win, and it’s been a real thrill.”

The Quokka is a similar style of slot holder race to that of The Everest, and connections had to wait a while to find out if they were going to Ascot.

“There is a fair bit of toing and froing with that, and Scott (Darby) and the slot holder (RAM Racing) were negotiating for a while, and they studied a lot of the form and videos and singled Overpass out as a horse they wanted to represent them,” McTavish said. 

“They basically told Scott that if he came across, he just wins, and it turns out they were pretty good judges.”

It has been a dream run for the local pair after Darby Racing purchased the stunning son of Vancouver that is out of Walkway at the Inglis Easter Sale, secured him for $75k, and McTavish explained how they got involved.

“We have had a few horses together over the years, mainly local ones with Chris Heywood, and we just found this one online and liked the look of it and got involved,” McTavish said. 

“They always tell you the horse is going well, and at his first start, he ran second to a pretty handy one at Hawkesbury, and then he came out at Orange and won, and from there, he strung a few together,” McTavish said.

Connections will now wait to find out where their galloper heads next, with Baker considering the $1.5 million Doomben 10,000 on May 13 or the $500,000 Goodwood at Morphettville on May 20.