Dean Mirfin’s $51 outsider Cosmologist has stunned the Central Districts Racing Association after holding on to win the region’s country championship qualifier in simply unbelievable circumstances on Sunday.
Comologist was the third emergency on race day morning heading into the $150,000 race but with Brett Thompson scratching three of his horses from the field Mirfin’s gelding earned a start in the race at the Mudgee Race Club.
The Bathurst trainer’s four-year-old then splashed its way to victory as torrential rain dumped pre-race and throughout the 1400 metre qualifier, the horses only emerging visable to the public late on the home straight.
At the head of the field was Eleanor Webster-Hawes on board Cosmologist, unaware of where the other 13 horses were.
At that point, she and Cosmologist were close to four lengths ahead of the next best, Noel’s Gift and Ori On Fire leading the challengers.
They would never catch them, though.
Really, they never got close.
Veteran race caller Col Hodges described the conditions as “out of this world” and the elation both Mirfin and Webster-Hawes showed post race lifted both to another stratosphere after securing the $80,000-to-the-winner prize on offer for the rich championship heat – the richest pay day both trainer and jockey have enjoyed in their racing careers.
The Royal Randwick-held country championship final Mirfin has now qualified for with with Cosmologist is worth $500,000.
Mirfin emerged from under an umbrella after Cosmologist past the post screaming with joy, drenched from top to toe.
“Incredible. I just can’t believe it. You beauty! This is unbelievable,” Mirfin immediately after the win.
Webster-Hawes was a little more sedated – maybe the enormity of the victory was yet to sink in.
“I couldn’t see much,” she laughed, looking back at the race.
“I took my goggles off not long after we jumped, the rain was just that heavy you couldn’t see through it.
“I was hoping he could pinch it and he did.”
Stewards confirmed the state of the Mudgee Race Club track as a heavy eight prior to the heat.
That rating was blown out of the water by the end of the 1400m.
Webster-Hawes found out she had the ride on Mirfin’s gelding on Sunday morning, but has a strong relationship with the Bathurst trainer and was familiar with Cosmologist.
That familiarity helped, obviously, as the pair recorded a two-and-a-half length victory from Gayna Williams’ Noel’s Gift ($51) and Cameron Crockett’s Ori On Fire ($4.80).
Williams has also qualified for the country championship final after finishing second.
Webster-Hawes had little idea where her nearest competition, which was Grant Buckley on board Noel’s Gift, was in the field.
“I wasn’t sure. I kept having a glace but I couldn’t see and I couldn't hear anyone,” she said.
“I was just hoping we were going at a good enough tempo to hold on.
“Unbelievable. I don’t have any words, it’s unreal. Especially for Dean.”
Pre-race favourite Most Exalted ($4.20) finished seventh, while Mack Griffith’s other fancied championship hope, Schedule ($5.50), ended the mud race in 10th.