King Of The Castle off to The $3m Big Dance

Reigning Everest winner Think About It might have been back home in the stable, but Joe Pride only had eyes for his Big Dance Wild Card winner King Of The Castle at Randwick, describing the gelding as his “horse crush”.

King Of The Castle ($7) raced his way into the $3 million Big Dance (1600m), driving through a late gap to win Saturday’s Wild Card (1600m) by a neck over Highlights ($12) with Loch Eagle ($12) another half-length away in a race dominated by the lower-weighted horses.

King Of The Castle, whose stable name is Lewis, has endeared himself to Pride, partly because he hails from New Zealand’s South Island where Pride spent almost a decade of his childhood.

“I’ve got a serious horse crush on this bloke,” Pride said.

“I don’t know what it is, me and ‘Lewis’, there is something about him.

“I grew up in Dunedin and he’s from the absolute bottom of the South Island staring at Antarctica.

“Even though he’s a little bit older now, I think the best is yet to come.”

When King Of The Castle first joined Pride’s yard from New Zealand, the trainer had trouble even getting him to the races.

But he has continued to flourish and improve and while connections would have been happy to get him to the Little Dance, he now founds himself exempt from a ballot for the bigger prize.

“It has been an interesting journey to say the least but he’s a pretty cool horse,” Pride said.

“I would have been happy to go to the Little Dance but when you get invited to the Big Dance, who’s going to the Little Dance?

“I’ve got absolutely no dancing in me but luckily the owners have, and Lewis has.

“He’ll give a good account of himself because he came here today dropping a massive amount of weight from a good run at Rosehill and he’ll get in pretty light in that Big Dance as well and he can only improve.”

Winning jockey Reece Jones said King Of The Castle went down on his nose at the start but from his inside draw, the horse was able to recover and pinch runs along the inside.

He proved the best horse at the finish, giving Pride a double on the program after the earlier win by Dashing Legend.

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