The message arrived at 8.23am on Thursday morning.
The deal was done.
Canberra trainer Keith Dryden's four-year-old gelding Handle The Truth would be Shellharbour's great hope in next month's $1.3 million The Kosciuszko race at Royal Randwick.
When the draw was made on Tuesday, a winning ticket, bought from TAB outlet at Stockland Shopping Centre on Lake Entrance Road, would remain officially unclaimed, as hot favourites Victorem and Noble Boy were already locked in.
Behind the scenes, Albert Tory, the former owner of the Illawarra's Toyota dealerships, was part of a group of 42 punters for a wide range of backgrounds, considering what their best hope of success in the race was.
Tory had previously been involved with Dryden runner Red Heat who was later sold to Kris Lees and Handle The Truth has shown his potential, as one of the best country horses around, with six wins from 11 starts.
Dryden is adamant Handle The Truth can take out the $685,000 prizemoney for first, of which the Shellharbour punters will share a significant chunk of, with Laurel Oak Bloodstock and the other owners.
"The horse is going gangbusters," Dryden said.
"We've at least got to be a top five chance.
"He's won a (Benchmark) 78 in town and he can handle a wet or dry track. I'd had a message the (Wednesday) night before enquiring about his availability then Albert called in the morning.
"Thankfully I didn't have to wait long to confirm we were locked in, so hopefully we can go close for them."
Noble Boy won the Country Championships final over 1400m in April, having taken the long road by qualifying through the wildcard entry race at Musswellbrook.
The Todd Blowes gelding had initially missed a spot in the final after finishing fourth in the Goulburn qualifier as a $1.75 favourite, with Handle The Truth drawn wide and running seventh, three lengths further back.
Unless Handle The Truth wins between now at The Kosciuszko race on October 19, Dryden's hope will have a significant weight swing in his favour.
Dryden is now mapping out the final preparations, with a run and a jump out likely.
With the field still to be finalised, Handle The Truth is at $11 on the third line of betting, with Victorem a $4 favourite and Noble Boy at $4.60.
Most recently, Handle The Truth was an impressive winner in a Benchmark 78 at Rosehill in July, on a Heavy 8 and is four from six at the 1200m trip.
Last year the John Shelton-trained Belflyer ($54) caused a boilover, lapping up the Heavy 9 conditions, with Suncraze second, Don't Give A Damn fourth and Victorem fifth.
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