Swan Hill trainer Nathan Hobson went from one extreme to the other to land Australia’s richest maiden, The Hotham, in Ballarat on Friday.
Specifically purchased to target the $75,000 event, Henry’s Affair ($9) saluted in a blanket finish – getting the money by a head from All The Wine ($4.40), with Mental As Anything ($8) a short head away third.
The Hobson stable went in search of a suitable runner for the 1200m dash after the disappointment of finishing last in The Hotham last year.
Hobson paid credit to his brother Ashleigh for sourcing Henry’s Affair from the Queensland stable of Trevor Thomas.
The five-year-old arrived with one second and three thirds in 28 starts and the Sportsbet Hotham was his first start for the Hobsons.
Nathan Hobson said the embarrassment of being at the tail of the field in the inaugural running of The Hotham had been the spur to finding a suitable horse for another attempt.
The stable initially acquired Midnight Cowboy for the assignment, but with him winning a few races a new search had to be launched.
Hobson said Henry’s Affair had only been with the team a month.
He also commended his farrier for sorting out the gelding’s feet. “He’s done a great job.”
Stable jockey Chelsea Macfarlane said Henry’s Affair had been running on empty late after making a move from midfield on the fence, but had picked up enough to hold on.
She said Henry’s Affair had raced above expectations.
Macfarlane praised the concept of The Hotham, which was great for the people who kept battlers going.
NATIVE Soldier has been a dominant winner the past two times he has been to Caulfield and apprentice Ben Allen is hoping a similar scenario can play out in the group 1 $2m Caulfield Guineas on Saturday.
The Darren Weir-trained Native Soldier has two wins from four starts this spring including the Guineas Prelude.
"He had a little breather, but was still able to have an extraordinary finish in him the last bit," Allen said.
Native Soldier appears likely to take up a prominent position again from an ideal draw in barrier four, given he has led in his two Caulfield wins in the McNeil Stakes and the prelude.
"The quicker he can get in front the quicker he'll switch off and he'll be able to conserve all his energy," Allen said.
"Hopefully he'll quicken away around the corner, put a margin on them and hopefully The Autumn Sun can't run him down." The Chris Waller-trained The Autumn Sun is odds-on favourite.