This one was for the battlers. Keith Dryden, a horse training veteran, won the $1.3 million Kosciuszko with Handle The Truth which he says will allow 25 Shellharbour pensioners to pay their bills.
It was the biggest win of Dryden's decorated 45-year career, with the Canberra-based trainer and his shareholders claiming $685,000 in prize money at Royal Randwick on Saturday.
Handle The Truth is owned by 27 different owners and the winning ticket was bought by a group of pensioners from Shellharbour.
But the victory means more than just champagne and prawns. It's a chance for the 25 slot owners to bolster their bank accounts and pay their bills.
"One of the [slot holders] said to me, 'I'm a pensioner and I'll only get about $10,000 out of the prize money. It'll be lovely to pay a bill when it comes to you,'" Dryden said.
"This is the most prize money I've won in a race. I haven't had a decent horse for a couple of years so it was excellent for him to go ahead and do the great job he's done for the owners."
Nash Rawiller sat sixth off the pace before surging through the middle on the final stretch to beat favourite Victorem by a length and finished as the clear winner.
MORE CANBERRA SPORT
Dryden and Matthew Dale were the first trainers from the capital to earn a Kosciuszko slot after Canberra trainers were excluded from racing in the inaugural event last year.
But Canberra Racing was thrust into the spotlight on Everest Day when Dryden's four-year-old gelding led four other local horses to the finish line.
Todd Blowes-trained Noble Boy finished fourth to pocket $65,000 of the prize money, while Goulburn-based trainer Danny Williams claimed seventh with Don't Give A Damn. Joe Cleary's Up Trumpz ran ninth to beat Dale-trained Notation by 0.2 lengths.
"It'll show people, even around the area they're trained in, that Canberra has some big runners," Dryden said.
"It'll show we can do that. Within an area of 20 kilometres, we had four horses in a $1.3 million race.
"It means a lot for the people who want to get a decent horse and not just be a number in a stable in Sydney.
"Hopefully more people will want to go into horses and boost Canberra racing."
Dryden will assess Handle The Truth over the week before deciding whether to take the Kosciuszko winner down to the Melbourne carnivals.
The four-year-old gelding completed the course in a new class record of 1:08.21 after the track was upgraded to a Good 3 moments before the race.
Dryden said the atmosphere at Royal Randwick was unbelievable after he won the biggest cheque of his career.
"When I was going to saddle the horse up there were still people coming through the gate. It's a great day," Dryden said.
Dryden sipped his lemon squash as Canberra-owned horse Happy Clapper claimed the Craven Plate (2000 metres) by 0.2 lengths.
Happy Clapper's owner-breeder Michael Thomas will pocket a share of the $287,000 prize money after the nine-year-old gelding beat Tally to the finish line.
Chris Waller Racing pocketed the largest portion of the Everest prize money after Yes Yes Yes won the $14 million race by 0.5 lengths.
THE KOSCIUSZKO - Canberra runners
1. Handle the Truth (Keith Dryden)
4. Noble Boy (Todd Blowes)
7. Don't Give A Damn (Danny Williams)
9. Up Trumpz (Joe Cleary)
10. Notation (Matthew Dale)