Attractable produces a tough effort to win the Big Dance at Royal Randwick

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The reluctant trainer and a horse that tried to kill her waltzed away with the $3 million Big Dance (1600m) at Royal Randwick on Tuesday.

At just 29 years old and only in her second year of training, Sara Ryan was the youngest and most inexperienced trainer with a Big Dance runner, but she outdid some of the biggest names in Australian racing when Attractable won the Sydney feature race at Melbourne Cup Day .

Tears streamed down Ryan’s face as she was interviewed by Channel 7’s Bruce McAvaney immediately after the race before regaining her composure and revealing to The Daily Telegraph that she never had ambitions of becoming a racehorse trainer.

“I worked for Domeland (owner of Attractable) managing their spelling and pre-training farm,” Ryan said.

“When they asked me to train for them, I thought they were completely crazy. I have always worked with performance horses, I love the animal, always have.

“Eventing and training racehorses are the same, you have to get them fit and keep them happy.”

Ryan performed well for Domeland as Attractable ($19) under Regan Bayliss raced to the front over the famous Randwick rise and safely held topweight Cepheus ($4.80 favourite) to win by a length and a half in front of a Cup Day crowd of more than 20,000 race fans .

Super Helpful ($19) rode strong to third place just ahead of King Of The Castle and the unlucky Camaguey.

Despite all the criticism that the Big Dance is the domain of the big city stables, the three placegetters were all trained outside Sydney.

Trainer Bjorn Baker saddled four runners in the Big Dance with Wategos (sixth) the first of the stable quartet home followed by Highlights (ninth), Hollywood Hero (10th) and early leader Iknowastar (16th).

Ryan is only in her second year as a trainer and Attractable is clearly her biggest win.

She joins the growing list of female trainers to prepare Randwick mile winners, including Gai Waterhouse’s seven Doncasters, seven Epsoms and eleven Flight Stakes, Wendy Roche (Doncaster), Annabel Neasham (Top Rated), Deidre Stein (Villiers Stakes) and Helen Page (two Villiers stakes).

There was a real symmetry between Ryan’s win in the Big Dance and the woman who helped pave the way for female trainers, Barbara Joseph, who prepared the third-place Super Helpful. Joseph won the 1989 Doncaster Handicap with Merimbula Bay.

Ryan, who has 23 horses in training and rides them all for work, said she was confident Attractable was ready to run well in the Big Dance after the gelding’s dangerous antics on the track on Monday morning.

Trainer Sara Ryan and connections celebrate Attractable’s victory in the Big Dance. Photo: Getty Images

“I rode him yesterday and he tried to kill me, so I knew he was done for the day,” Ryan said.

“He’s just one of those horses, he thinks he’s a comedian, he had a lot of money, had a good game when he came off the track and then I know he’s right. He thinks he’s hilarious, I don’t .”

“But this horse gives his heart every time he races and that’s why I love him so much.”

Bayliss will also have a special place in his heart for Attractable, with the lucrative win going a long way towards paying for his wedding next month.

“I came to gallop this horse at Wyong on Friday morning and she (Ryan) had trained it to the minute to be honest,” Bayliss said.

“It looked so good, made me feel good on Friday and knew he would be very difficult to beat today. The race went beautifully for him and he is as tough as nails.

“I gave him a little niggle at the top of the straight and he went straight past the leader and once he hits the front he’s a difficult horse to pin back.”

Cepheus certainly found the task of reeling in Attractable beyond him, although the runner-up was brave under his 62kg lift and conceded 5.5kg to the winner.

“It was a real race, really run,” said Cepheus rider Nash Rawiller.

“My guy ran perfectly. He gave it his all and I loved the way he dug deep in the 100m to try and win it. I think he really felt the pressure in the last 50m but he couldn’t be prouder of the horse. “

But the last word belongs to Ryan, who tried to come to grips with Attractable’s Big Dance coup.

Ryan was asked if she was now thinking about races like the $1 million The Gong and $2 million The Ingham (Villiers) with Attractable, but the answer summed up her approach to training: “I don’t know yet, we’ll see how he performs up , the horse comes first.”

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