Te Awamutu trainer Stephen Ralph experienced the biggest day in his racing career on New Year’s Day after winning the Gr.1 Sistema Railway (1200m) with Santa Monica, but it was the wave of support he received after the race that meant more to the Waikato horseman.
“For us, the reality is probably sinking in now,” Ralph said.
“The amount of kudos that we have received from so many people has been amazing, my phone is running out of power. They just want to be part of that moment.”
The day was made even better for Ralph when he picked up a training double after Marissa took out the following race on the card, the Barfoot & Thompson 1600.
“That was the cream on the cake (that second win),” he said. “We knew we had both horses ready to win. It is one of those days that you dream about and it was just our day.”
While Ralph said it was fantastic to get his first victory at elite level, he feels just as much satisfaction from getting the best out of every horse he trains.
“It’s great winning Group Ones, I always say good horses are good and they win anyway, so we’re just lucky to have a horse with ability,” Ralph said.
“From my own personal view, we get as much satisfaction out of a horse winning a maiden race that has no ability, or a horse that we have turned around since coming to us.
“But this is a little bit different because everyone else has bought into the Group One win.”
Some of those followers literally bought into the win, taking the lucrative odds on offer for both stable runners, with Santa Monica paying $77 for the win, while Marissa paid $18 to her supporters for her victory.
“There are a number of our stable followers who had taken multi bets on the two horses and they have really had a good day,” Ralph said.
“For instance, if you took a $10 multi on the two of them, it gave a return of $24,000.
“A person just told me they picked up $56,000 on a multi bet and I know an Australian picked up $44,000 and there have been a few other very good multi bets.”
While his supporters reaped the rewards from bookmakers, Ralph said he unfortunately didn’t have the time on Tuesday to have a bet himself.
“We missed out ourselves,” he said. “Just how the day went, we didn’t get the opportunity to have a bet. But we are not big punters.”
Ralph was delighted for those who took the lucrative odds, but said he was humbled by the number of people who felt a part of the hands-on trainer’s big win.
“We are just rapt, because of the amount of people who made contact, they feel they are part of the success because they come from a similar situation, so they feel our win,” Ralph said.
“We are like a lot of people and have to work pretty hard. I think all racing people do, but there are a few of us who have to do a lot of the physical work.”
Like most race days, Ralph was strapping both of his runners and said it was unfortunate that he was unable to enjoy the success with his partner Melanie.
“My partner Melanie generally has to stay home because the work has to be done back there as well,” he said.
“A family friend had died on Christmas Day and his funeral was yesterday, so she felt she really needed to go to the funeral and missed out on that big day.
“It’s a shame, because we both do the hard yards, and we don’t often get to share those moments, so we will have to put a day aside and really celebrate yesterday.”
That celebration has been a long time coming, with Ralph believing it was only a matter of time before Santa Monica would crack the big time.
“I said after her first two-year-old trial that this is a Group One horse,” he said. “We have always expected her to be a Group One horse and now she has achieved that.” – NZ Racing Desk