Racing: Young King Cole dukes the field

By Mike Dillon

Lisa Allpress aboard Dukedom takes out the Levin Classic on Saturday.Picture / Trish Dunell
Lisa Allpress aboard Dukedom takes out the Levin Classic on Saturday.Picture / Trish Dunell

If you can't get carried away in winning in horse racing, you should be carried away.
Like most axioms, there is a huge level of truth in it.

Steven Cole shed tears of joy in the Trentham birdcage on Saturday when Dukedom downed a topline field in the group one $225,000 Woodridge Homes Levin Classic.

And with justification - he had almost certainly just become the youngest thoroughbred trainer in Australasia to produce a group one winner training solo.

And equally the first to achieve that with his first group one runner.

"Jacob McKay trained one, but that was in partnership with his dad Peter, but I'm fairly sure I'd be the first to do it on my own," the 24-year-old said through coughing fits at his Byerley Park base yesterday morning.

"Sorry, but I've got a very sore throat from yelling when they were coming down the home straight yesterday."

With 350m to run Dukedom was still second last and looked in need of every bit of encouragement going. But once Lisa Allpress wound him up he sprinted like a true topliner to swamp the talented opposition.

Cole has been training for less than two years and by his own reckoning has taken a horse to the races "around 30 times". That made Saturday's achievement extraordinary.

He is a product of King's College. "That was a waste of money because I always wanted to be a horse trainer, but dad wanted me to get an education first." Dad is David Cole, owner and operator of International Racehorse Transport.

There is breeding there - David Cole also operated as a trainer and produced Cactus Jack to win an Easter Handicap at Ellerslie and Star Of Mercury to finish third in Zonda's Derby. David Cole stood proudly alongside his son in the Trentham birdcage.

How did he feel at that moment?: "Like a father who has just had his son named as the youngest ever All Black."

Steven Cole describes Dukedom as tough. He's shown that. When he won his first race at Avondale a couple of months back engaged rider Lee Magorrian was stood down early in the programme and fellow Irish apprentice Brendan Hutton landed the ride.

Hutton approached this writer with: "They've asked me to ride this horse forward from his wide draw. He won't get to the front and he'll probably be caught wide outside the leaders and it'll make me look stupid." Regardless, Hutton followed instructions and was caught in the impossible position of three wide outside the two leaders. Just when everyone expected Dukedom to drop away he forged clear and won by a margin. It was clear he was something special.

"He's very tough minded - he handles anything you dish up to him," said Cole, who clearly knew exactly what he was asking for at Avondale.

It's now to the Avondale Guineas and the Derby.

"He freshens up well, so he'll be fine for those next two big missions."

***

Brendan Hutton resumes race riding at Te Rapa on Wednesday. He suffered neck injuries in an Ellerslie barrier trial fall on November 3 then fractured an elbow when his mount broke a leg at Ellerslie and crashed through the running rail at his fourth ride back.

- NZ Herald

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