Wise suggestion leads to Winter Cup victory

By Dennis Ryan

10 Aug 2022

Wise suggestion leads to Winter Cup victoryTerry Moseley celebrates a popular Winter Cup win for Canterbury on Lord Darci.

“I won’t cry if I don’t get it, but I’ll probably cry if I do!”
One of the wise old heads of New Zealand racing played an inadvertent part in last Saturday’s Gr. 3 Winning Edge Presentations Winter Cup victory by Ashburton gelding Lord Darci.
Three months beforehand, after Lord Darci had notched just the second win of his 10-start career in a Rating 65 race at Riccarton Park, it was suggested by veteran horseman Rex Cochrane that he might be worth considering for the Winter Cup.
Any observation from that source could not be taken lightly given Cochrane is one of the doyens of racing – the first New Zealand trainer to prepare 1,000 winners, a triple premiership winner, and ultimately earning induction to the New Zealand Racing Hall of Fame.
Cochrane’s interest in Lord Darci was more than passing; after all his daughter and son-in-law, Robyn and Bevan Wilson, bred, race and train the son of their former star filly Madam Victoria.
The Wilsons, based in Ashburton for nearly a decade after combining farming with their thoroughbred interests in central Otago, initially dismissed Cochrane’s suggestion and didn’t enter Lord Darci when Winter Cup nominations closed in mid-June. Another win at Ashburton early the following month had the Wilsons thinking “just maybe”, and they became believers when Lord Darci was narrowly beaten by Summer Festival in the Oamaru Cup on July 24.
The late entry deadline was just days away, so they stumped up the $2,300 fee to give their budding star his chance. On the opening weekend of the new season Lord Darci and veteran jockey Terry Moseley combined to give Canterbury its first Winter Cup win since McLaskry in 1999.
“We didn’t really take Rex seriously when he first suggested the Winter Cup,” Bevan Wilson told RaceForm earlier this week. “In the end we had to admit he might have a point and I guess it’s great that he’s been proven right.”
Ironically, the Winter Cup is a rare South Island feature missing from Cochrane’s list, but the family name was already on the honours board long before. “My grandfather JR (Jim) Cochrane won the Winter Cup in 1942 and 1943 with Bashful Lady,” says Robyn Wilson. “He trained in Waimate back then before moving down to Gore, which is where Dad went into partnership with him.”
Rex Cochrane trained until 1994 for a total of 1,486 wins and retired to Alexandra, eventually relocating north to be closer to family in Ashburton. “He’s 92 now, as bright as button and obviously still keen on racing,” says his son-in-law.
The Wilsons named one of their own horses Bashful Lady and won eight races with her, including the Gore Guineas, before she produced the Wilsons’ Dunedin Guineas winner Royal Miss. They are among six black-type winners in a total of 81 prepared by Bevan Wilson since he took out his trainer’s licence in the late 1980s, having been joined by his wife in partnership four years ago.
All their big winners trace back to the Regalis ll mare Regalitas, others including the Gr. 3 White Robe Handicap and Listed Churchill Stakes, James Hazlett Stakes and Timaru Cup winner Nearly Pal’s, and Lord Darci’s dam Madam Victoria, whose eight wins were headed by the Listed Inglewood, Warstep, Timaru and Otago Breeders’ Stakes.
With Lord Darci having made his own black-type contribution to the family’s pedigree page, he is now enjoying a let-up ahead of a possible tilt at the Gr. 2 Coupland’s Bakeries Mile at the New Zealand Cup carnival.
“He’s still got some maturing to do and he’s earned a break,” said Wilson, an eight-test All Black and long-time fullback for Otago in the 1970s who chose farming and thoroughbreds ahead of the opportunity to coach the Otago rep team.
The other important element in Lord Darci’s big win was popular jockey Terry Moseley, who relished the chance to finally add the Winter Cup after missing previous opportunities.
“I got off Ritani last year, so it means a lot to get this one,” said the Taranaki-born 55-year-old who has ridden in the South Island since 1990, soon after completing his apprenticeship with his father Whiz in Hawera.
In 2017 he became the 31st jockey to win 1,000 races in New Zealand and now boasts a tally of 1,208 wins, with Lord Darci taking him to a half-century of black-type wins.
“I’m learning to appreciate these wins more as I get older,” Moseley told RaceForm. “I love my riding and even though I’m not sure how many more years before Father Time catches up with me, I’ll keep going as long as I’m enjoying it.
“Right now my body’s well, I’m ticking boxes like my first season just gone winning more than $1 million, and there are still people who want to put me on.
“I still haven’t got that elusive Group One, that’s the only thing that’s missing. I won’t cry if I don’t get it, but I’ll probably cry if I do!”