Scone trainer Rodney Northam celebrated his impending birthday in grand style when his underrated sprinter Big Money flashed home late to win the $175,000 W.J. Healy Stakes at Eagle Farm on Saturday.
Northam turns 43 on Sunday.
‘‘We’ll be celebrating for sure,’’ he said after the group 3 event. ‘‘This is great, really great. It’s a big relief.’’
Seven years ago, Northam had Rosa’s Spur in the group 1 Tattersall's Tiara on the same program, but the mare finished unplaced, which made Big Money's win more special.
‘‘He put the writing on the wall last time [in the Lightning Handicap] and the 1200 metres today really suited him. He’s a progressive horse. It was a really good win and it will now set him up for Grafton.’’
Northam has made no secret that his main goal with Big Money this campaign has been the $150,000 Ramornie (1200m) at Grafton on July 9. And for Northam to share victory with his long-time friend, jockey Robert Thompson, it was further reason to celebrate.
‘‘It was a super ride by Robert, he pulled it off,’’ Northam said. ‘‘They were flying up front but I wasn’t too worried when Big Money was back. After the turn I saw Robert starting to make a move on him and I got more confident. Rob’s ridden for me since I first started training. He’s been a great help right throughout.’’
Thompson, who has ridden in more than 4000 winners, the most of any jockey in Australasia, was thrilled to win the race for ‘‘my mate’’. He spent some time in the sauna on race morning sweating off precious weight to ride the four-year-old Choisir gelding.
‘‘They certainly went along and I was off the bit at one stage,’’ Thompson said. ‘‘To his credit, Big Money knuckled down when it mattered. Rod’s done a marvellous job with this little fellow. We go back at least 20 years and have won a lot of races together. He’s a great conditioner. It’s great to see him win a group race like this.’’
Big Money is out of Lyn’s Money and was bred by part-owner Phil Gunter. He is the third foal from the dam which died a couple of days after giving birth to Big Money. He was put through the Scone sales but bought back by Gunter and the remainder of the syndicate who race the winner of six from 10 and $252,000 in stakes..
The first foal from Lyn’s Money – Okane – won eight times, including a Scone two-year-old feature and the Grafton Guineas.The second foal – Holly Opera – won once.
‘‘It’s a shame the mare died," Northam said. "I trained her [Lyn’s Money] and she won about nine races, including three in town,’’ Northam said. ‘‘Like Big Money, she was only small, got back and charged home.’’
Big Money started at $6 and had a half-neck to spare over his Lightning conqueror Cape Kidnappers ($3.60 fav), with a head to third placegetter Seeking More ($18).
The story Big Money gives trainer Rodney Northam an early birthday present at Eagle Farm first appeared on The Sydney Morning Herald.