The last time Brooke Sweeney was at Randwick with O So Hazy, she ended up crying tears of joy – and she'd only ran third, in the Country Championships Final in April.
The 24-year-old was happy just to be there, competing in the big race. The biggest cheque of her career was a nice bonus. As she walked back to the weigh-in the tears began to flow.
“You dont get to stay on these horses as a female jockey. Usually the owners put someone else on in the big races,” Sweeney said. “I was so happy they kept me on for Randwick and then to run third, that was beyond my dreams. It all got a bit much when I was coming back.
"I got emotional after I won my first city race on Leveraction at Flemington, but that was lot bigger at Randwick, even though I didn't win. Its going to be bigger again on Saturday.”
The Country Championships placing made O So Hazy an ideal candidate for The Kosciuszko, the country-only race that is modelled on The Everest.
Instead of buying a slot, punters bought tickets for a lottery, with 12 winners able to do a deal with country-trained horse to run in the $1.3 million race.
O So Hazy was in the mix on the strength of her Randwick effort as well as being the winner of Country Championship heat at Wagga and her fourth in the Wagga Town Plate, one of the biggest country sprints.
“I was talking to [the trainer] Scott [Spackman] and we thought we would have a crack at the race. We didnt know how we were going to get in because she is not as high-profile as some of the other horses,” Sweeney explained.
“It was great to just get the call saying she was picked. I never thought I would be riding in a $1 million race, so it is exciting. I knew the owners were going to stick with me, which is a big thing and this is certainly bigger than last time I went to Randwick.”
Sweeney is more likely to seen riding trackwork at Flemington for Lindsay Park and takes her chances when they come in the bush than on the richest day of racing in Australia. Her last two winners have been at Leeton and her home town of Jerilderie.
"It's funny, I don't even know how much the prizemoney was from the Country Championships because it all goes on my house," Sweeney said.
"It would be great to win on Saturday because it would get me closer to getting back to country and buying a farm, which is what I want to do."
Incredibly, the slot-holder that chose O So Hazy had only one $5 ticket in the draw, while several big syndicates bought thousand of tickets.
“If the punter [Eamon Gormley] didnt pick us, then we wouldnt be there, so you want to do your best for them,” Sweeney said. “It is amazing he only had one ticket in the whole thing.”
O So Hazy and Sweeney continue to beat the odds and even as a $61 outsider in the Kosciuszko, it would be a surprise to see them figure in the finish.
Sweeney is confident her girl will run another big race, considering the two horses which beat O' So Hazy home in the Country Championships Final, Victorem and Dont Give A Damn are the favourites on Saturday.
“I really think she is up to winning this time. I didnt really think that last time,” Sweeney said. “I know the OLonhros can get through the wet. I think she can tough it out pretty well.
“She has the blinkers on this time around and she is going just as well as before. I wish I could say I dreamed of winning this but I can't because this race didn't exist, which make it more incredible.”
Racing writer for The Sydney Morning Herald