Cessnock brothers Nick and Matt Evans like to think their late father, Mark, "pulled a few strings for us" when they bought a five per cent share with mate John Robertson in She Will Reign.
That $2500 stake in the $20,000 filly gave them a piece of Golden Slipper glory on Saturday at Rosehill and a share of the horse’s $2,555,150 in prizemoney.
She Will Reign powered to a 2.3-length win in the $3.5 million Golden Slipper (1200 metres) – the richest two-year-old race in the world, with a first prize of $2 million.
The Evans brothers and Robertson, together with family and friends, were part of wild celebrations trackside when Ben Melham took the Gary Portelli-trained filly to victory on the heavy track.
The trio were back on home turf on Sunday soaking up the win.
“It was unreal, absolutely amazing,” said Nick, 31, an operator at an underground mine. “I wouldn’t say it’s the best time of my life because I’m married and have two kids, so I can’t say that, but it’s definitely up there.”
Nick, who picked out the Darby Racing syndicated horse, said the success came after the shock of losing their father to a heart attack in August last year.
“We like to think he pulled a few strings for us,” Nick said.
Matt, a 33-year-old podiatrist and father of two, said “it’s been a fantastic couple of days” and it was great to have their mother, Linda, with them at Rosehill.
“We’re not deeply religious people but he was certainly on board yesterday,” Matt said of his father. “I think it was just really great that this horse came along at that time and it helped distract us from what had happened. It got everyone together and it was nice to have everyone there yesterday.”
They were unsure how much they had won with She Will Reign, given costs and commissions, but five per cent of her stakes is $127,757. While the trio were planning a holiday together, Robertson said his winnings would also pay for a present to partner, Emily Angwin.
“I promised Emily I’d take her to New York for her 30th, so I better come through with that,” Robertson said.
The 31-year-old, who works in labour hire, was glad the Evans brothers convinced him to sign up.
“I swore I’d never buy another horse again because I’d had a shocker with them,” he said. “I said no but they twisted my arm and I ended up going in with them, so it was a good decision. It makes up for the others, definitely.”
Next for the group could be a run in the new $10 million The Everest in October.
“If it goes to the Everest, that will do me,” Robertson said. “Yesterday was good but if it won the Everest, we’d be on a ride then.”
“But it’s been good. It’s once in a lifetime and I guess it’s like winning the lottery. I don’t think we’ll get to the director’s room at Rosehill again.”
Nick was unsure if they would have a turn hosting the Golden Slipper trophy but joked: “They wouldn’t trust us with it”.
As for selecting She Will Reign, Nick said he would “take credit for picking it but it was all luck”.
“I’ve followed racing and I’ve always liked Manhattan Rain, the sire, and it’s all luck, but good luck,” he said.
“It paid for itself after its second race.”