On her 88th birthday, Elsie Green received flowers from Jay Ford.
The jockey was just 20 when he provided Green with her biggest thrill as a trainer, riding Hurry On Spec to victory at 66-1 in the 2004 Listed Stayers Cup at Rosehill, run three days before her 70th birthday.
The life of Elsie May Green (nee Bridle) will be celebrated at a funeral service on Monday, just down the road from where she spent decades at Kembla Grange. Had the opportunity presented, as it may well have in this era, Elsie may well have been a jockey herself.
Instead, a broodmare called Blues Privy led her into a career of training, after she arrived with future runners Hurry On Please as a foal at her side and Hurry On Thanks on the way.
Hurry On Please gave Elsie her first taste of success in Sydney, winning in 1992 at Hawkesbury, ridden by Les Masters. But the best was yet to come when, in 2004, Elsie trusted her judgement and claimed black-type success with Hurry On Spec.
"People bagged mum for taking him up there," daughter Gillian Starr said.
"He was out to 2000m and came from nowhere, but mum gave Jay instructions how to ride Spec and he followed them, mum always loved Jay for it.
"She loved Spec, it was lovely to see Jay send her flowers on her birthday. Luke Price did too, who used to ride for her."
The bond between trainer and horse was never strained, even after Hurry On Spec knocked her over after being spooked by a dog in the lead-up to the Stayers Cup and Elsie wore a sling to the track. Along the way, Elsie wouldn't back her best performer.
"I did once before, I had $50 each-way and the jockey went to sleep, so now I don't back him at all. Never again," Elsie said in 2004.
Hurry On Spec went on to have 129 starts, including 10 wins and 16 placings, his last run coming as a 10-year-old.
The kind of longevity in racing Elsie Green is celebrated for.
"Mum had a hard-working life," Starr said. "She'd milk cows in the morning, then deliver bread and come home and work horses. She'd have winners on a belly full of grass."
Kerry Parker returns for another shot at Midway Handicap success, as fellow Kembla Grange trainer Brett Lazzarini attempts to revive the career of Catesby at Randwick on Saturday.
Don Luigi ran fourth over six furlongs on Soft going earlier this month, after a third at the same trip on Heavy previously, but now drops back to 1100m.
Meanwhile, former Godolphin runner Catesby has arrived at Lazzarini's stable hoping to show some of his promise as a three and four-year-old as a $101 chance in a Benchmark 78 over 1100m.
This year's Stayers Cup over 2600m will feature at Randwick, with Robert Quinn's Marakopa hoping to build on a fifth in the two-mile Brisbane Cup.
"He's handled good tracks before but all his best form is with the sting out a bit,'' Quinn told Racing NSW.
"It'll be winter ground and we're of the opinion if he can run up to his last two runs he's going to be right on the premises. He came back from Brisbane bouncing so we'll keep going forward."
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