SEYMOUR’S streets were cloaked in darkness. They were silent, empty, not even a stray cat was to be seen.
Until one car engine, rumbling into life before being backed onto the road and then pointed north, ended the still of the night, and began its routine 40-minute drive to Euroa.
It was barely 4.30am and the driver was in a world of his own, cocooned in technology and already focused on the job ahead.
Just 48 hours earlier the driver had been Cory Who?
In 2012 the all but anonymous track rider for Lindsay Park arrived in Australia on October 21, a down-on-his luck Kiwi who had gambled all on one last roll of the dice to become a jockey with a serious future in the saddle.
Five years later, to the day, he would be catapulted into the eye of an incredible storm, a whirlwind of excitement, disbelief, triumph and sweetest of all, justification.
Cory had just steered 50/1 outsider Boom Time to victory in the $3.15 million Caulfield Cup, the world’s richest 2400m handicap.
As a 15-year-old apprentice jockey in Cambridge, New Zealand, Cory, along with other wide-eyed hopefuls signing on to become jockeys, had to complete a profile.
At the inevitable question (what is your ultimate ambition in racing?) every teenager filled in the obvious (to win the Melbourne Cup).
Cory Parish wrote: To ride in the Melbourne Cup.
On Tuesday week that naïve boyhood dream will come true with owner and trainer David Hayes confirming he would take his surprise package all the way to Australasia’s greatest race.
If Cory thought the 2:27.66 minutes it had taken him to become an immediate household name in two countries was special – and it was – he must be looking at the coming 3:16.3 at Flemington on November 7 (the race record set by Kingston Rule in 1990) with awe.
Truth be told, Cory’s not sure how he is looking at it.
Right now his sole focus in the next 14 days, starting today, is to not get sick, injured or, worst of all, suspended. He can recall the whole race, from the jump to that sliver of light between two horses that gave him his inside run to the 100m mark as he pulled away and realised the race was his.
To that sheer explosion of joy, relief and achievement as he rose in the irons and pumped the air.
Nobodies get the 50/1 shots in big races. Cory said there are three kinds of horses: “The really good ones; and they tend to make their own luck. Then there are the average horses, and you have to make their luck for them. Finally the below average, and they never have any luck.”
Unlike many of the riders in Saturday’s Caulfield Cup, Cory has never ridden a major listed winner.
Group two and three victories had eluded him and the ride on Boom Time was only his tenth appearance in a group one.
And he would score a perfect 10 – albeit at 50/1.