David Smith says Friarday’s agonizing defeat in last year’s Kalgoorlie Cup still burns.
It’s been almost 12-months since the loss but it’s a memory that still haunts Smith.
No matter how many times he relives the race the result remains does not change.
Friarday, the fledgling trainer’s first starter in a Kalgoorlie Cup, was beaten in a photo finish.
Smith thought he had it in the bag when Friarday kicked clear with 200m remaining, but True Gold stole the race in the last stride.
“It left me with an empty feeling,” said Smith.
“I actually thought he had won.
“He was in front for most of the straight and past the post but not when it counted.
“Shaun (McGruddy) gave him a perfect ride but True Gold had the run of the race.
“I had to look at the positives being a new trainer with my first runner in the Kalgoorlie Cup, but I was left feeling pretty gutted.”
Friarday’s defeat cost Smith the opportunity of matching the feat of his father Cliff, who dominated Kalgoorlie racing for a decade before relocating to Northam.
Smith’s triumphs in the goldfields included the Kalgoorlie Cup (1997) and the Coolgardie Cup (1996-97) with versatile galloper, Corporate James.
“I might have felt some internal pressure when I first started out on my own,” said Smith.
“But I wasn’t consciously thinking or worrying about following in the footsteps of dad.
“I don’t feel any expectation or burden on my shoulder now.
“Dad is a great mentor but he is not one to readily interfere.
“If I ask for his advice he will give it or else leaves it up to me.”
Smith is living up to his father’s legacy by taking giant strides in just his third season of training.
His current 11 wins sees him challenging for second position in the trainer’s premiership.
The quietly spoken father of two, who combines training with work as a fitter and turner, modestly downplays his progress.
“It’s more to do with increased numbers in the stable and a few nice horses,” said Smith.
“Ashanti Lass has been a very good one for me and is doing well.”
“I also get a lot of help from Eliza Finger who is a big cog in the wheel.”
Smith has followed the script and given Friarday a similar programme to last year in his bid to go one better in next fortnight’s Kalgoorlie Cup.
“I think he is going as good if not better than last year,” said Smith.
“In my opinion he is actually looking and feeling better.
“I don’t want to get too far ahead of myself as there is a long way to go.
“But if I could win it it will be a huge thrill and achievement.”
RWWA: Julio Santarelli