15 September 2020

Fitting reward for top trainer

| Canberra Racing Club
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Dryden and connections

Dryden and connections after winning the 2019 Kosciuszko. Photo: Bradley Photos.

A fifth Canberra Trainer’s Premiership is a fitting reward for a year full of hard work and highlights for one of the ACT’s leading trainers Keith Dryden.

Dryden has made his home track of Thoroughbred Park a fortress over the past season securing the Canberra Trainer’s Premiership in a canter with an impressive 23 wins, 20 seconds and 14 thirds.

Dryden instilled a strong winning culture within his team, exemplified by the wide margin they finished with ahead of their rivals. The closest were Nick Olive, who finished 2nd in the 2016 Caulfield Cup with Single Gaze, and the Snowdens who both totalled 13 wins for the season, 10 behind Dryden and his team.

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Dryden attributes this success to the people he has surrounded himself with.

“We have a fantastic team. They are experienced in the industry and passionate about the animals as well as the sport,” Dryden said.

“But it’s not just our staff. We also have a great base of owners who have recently moved upmarket when buying their horses. The higher quality of horse has certainly helped and it doesn’t hurt when you’ve been in the industry for 40 years.

“We now have a fantastic buy-win record. We have purchased approximately 28 horses with our partners Laurel Oak Bloodstock in recent times for 26 winners which really is incredible,” Dryden said.

Dryden’s partnership with Laurel Oak Bloodstock has proved fruitful, with stable superstar and the Laurel Oak Bloodstock-owned Handle The Truth winning the second running of the Kosciuszko, the richest race for country-trained horses in the world. Last year, 2019, was the first year horses trained out of Canberra were eligible to compete in the $1.3 million race and Dryden’s Handle The Truth meant the Capital finished one from one.

Keith Dryden and Louis Mihalyka

Keith Dryden with Laurel Oak Bloodstock’s Louis Mihalyka. Photo: Supplied.

“It was probably the biggest thrill of my career to date,” Dryden said of Handle The Truth‘s Kosciuszko victory. “A stranger gave up her spot on the fence for me to watch the race and when he won I turned to her and gave her a big hug – I’d never seen her before in my life.

“For me to do something like that shows you the raw emotion that was involved on the day,” Dryden said.

Handle The Truth’s exploits didn’t stop there as Canberra’s fastest horse beat home a stack of City class horses in the Affinity Constructions Australia Quality Open Sprint on Black Opal Stakes Day. Dryden collected two wins out of the eight races on Canberra’s showpiece day, a significant achievement given the abundance of quality Sydney stables who came to town.

Handle The Truth has given us some wonderful thrills of recent times but he’s not the only one,”Dryden said. “Rockarosa won the Queen of the South at Wagga, Gunga Din won a TAB Highway and then more recently the Narrandera Cup, plus we had a number of other great winners in the city. It really has been a special year.”

Keith Dryden, Handle The Truth, Black Opal Stakes

Keith Dryden debriefing with connections after Handle The Truth won on Black Opal Stakes day. Photo: Bradley Photos.

There was no Premiership hangover for Dryden and his team as they kicked off the new season in style, winning two of the eight races at Thoroughbred Park on 7 August. Witchita Warrior seems to be bound for good things as he dismantled his opposition in the feature race, the TAB Federal. Dryden’s 6-year-old mare Wilful Soul broke her maiden earlier in the day.

Dryden leads the 2020/2021 Premiership with two wins above Gratz Vella, Rob Potter, Ron Weston and John Nisbet, Gai Waterhouse and Adrian Bott, Joe Ible and Theresa Bateup who all sit on one.

Regular race days are continuing with COVID-19 restrictions in place. For more details visit Thoroughbred Park.

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