SPECIAL FEATURE: Victoria Derby day – Young blokes ‘livin’ the dream’

When two young country New South Wales trainers loaded their horses onto the float and started driving down the Hume Highway to Melbourne on Sunday night, the first thing Luke Price said to fellow trainer Kurt Goldman was “we’re livin’ the dream mate”. On Saturday, Goldman, 29, and Price, 32, will saddle Group I runners at one of Australia’s greatest race meetings – Victoria Derby day. Price runs Man Of Choice in the $1.5 million AAMI Victoria Derby (2500m) while Goldman starts Hellbent in the $1 million Group I Coolmore Stud Stakes (1200m). “You wouldn’t believe it would you?” Price said. “Two young blokes from the south coast of New South Wales with Group I runners on one of racing’s biggest days mixing it with international racing royalty. “Our families will be there and my brother has even cut short his bucks’ week in Bali to come back this morning. It’s very exciting.” Goldman, a Wollongong boy, cut his teeth on the rodeo circuit “riding bulls” and “travelling around to all the Royals showing stock horses”. He was working as a farrier and as a barrier attendant at Kembla Grange when he decided it was time to “have a crack at training” about six years ago. “I bought a horse called Arms Length for $2000 and she will always hold a special place in my heart. Without her I doubt I’d be where I am today,” Goldman said. “She won her first two starts, won in town, placed in the mares’ race at the Magic Millions and won about $190,000. She was basically my employer for three years.” Goldman was introduced to Sydney businessman Alan Cardy early last year and took over his training operation in Goulburn “about 18 months ago”. The partnership has been a success with Goldman tasting Group III success during the Brisbane winter carnival in May with Faust. But it was last year when a cheeky bay I Am Invincible colt was sent out to work with an old stager that the trainer knew he had something “right out of the box”. “He came to me after he was broken in and he’d been at the property for about six weeks and he was being a colt, a little bit tricky, so I said to my partner Heather (Poland), who rides them in work, ‘go out and work with the old horse, Court Connection’,” he said. “I told her to ‘give him a proper work out and try and knock some of the cheekiness out of him’. “He went past the old horse in the gallop like he was nailed to the ground and beat him by about 50 metres. I thought ‘ok geez I’ve got one’.” Price on the other hand comes from a famous New South Wales racing family. He’s the grandson of the late Kevin Robinson and the son of respected Nowra horseman Robert Price but as a young bloke being a trainer was a back-up idea. “My first dream was to be a jockey and I achieved that until a fall cut that career short but my weight was always going to get the better of it so it just meant plan B started earlier,” he said. “I spent the back end of my apprenticeship with Guy Walter which when I look back now was invaluable when it came to getting to know the training side of things. “I was lucky enough to work with a lot of quality animals, I worked with Braeloch leading up to the Australian Derby when he ran second to Starcraft. Some of the things Guy did with him, I’ve done with this horse.” Like Price, Goldman has also gained wisdom with one of the best, calling on the experience of Peter Snowden to help him get Hellbent to where he will be on Saturday, lining up against the best three-year-old colts and fillies in the land. “One day I picked up the phone and rang Peter Snowden to talk to him about the colt – I didn’t know what to do, I hadn’t had a horse like this before and I’ve spoken to him a few times since,” he said. “He’s been great, really supportive, offering advice and sharing his knowledge. “I actually told Alan early on that I thought he should consider giving this horse to a trainer like Peter but he said ‘no’ and put all his faith in me. I’ll never forget that.” Price said it was at Warwick Farm in March when he realised that Man Of Choice was a horse that could showcase the young trainer’s talents better than those that had come before. “He went much better than I expected and I’d thought from the first time I sat on him that he felt like a staying type of horse so I knew with a bit of luck he had a very bright future,” he said. “I’ve only had three or four city winners but I had Belle De Coeur who was Group II and Group III placed and this horse ran third in the Gloaming and the Spring Champion Stakes. I’ve been lucky to have a bit of luck, we haven’t been far away in some big races. “If I can get one over the line first, it might be the making of us hopefully.” Goldman said “obviously” Hellbent winning the Coolmore Stud Stakes would be extremely satisfying for himself but “most importantly” he would take more pleasure from the rewarding experience it would give Cardy and the horse’s other owners along with his partner Heather Poland. “I just can’t believe I’m here, it’s a dream come true and I really want Alan to taste a Group I win,” he said. “He and his group of owners have been amazing to myself and Heather and I’m indebted to him so to get him a Group I win would be beyond words.” For Price, it’s much of the same. A Man Of Choice Victoria Derby win would be “an amazing way of saying thanks” to his parents and the horse’s owners. “Not in my wildest dreams did I think I’d be here with a runner in the Victoria Derby at my age,” he said. “It’s amazing, the build-up, the excitement around town. We drove into Melbourne and there were billboards, you read the papers, look around Flemington with all the marquees and everything else, it’s spine-tingling. “If Kurt or myself are lucky enough to get a result on Saturday we’ll tear Melbourne apart in the next few days.”Main Image: Luke Price (left) with Man Of Choice and Kurt Goldman (right) with Hellbent at Flemington.  Photo:  Darryl Sherer Story by Clinton Payne, Breednet
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