YES Yes Yes continues a “golden” racing journey for three Armidale men when the juvenile lines up in Saturday’s $2million The Star Magic Millions 2YO Classic (1200m) at the Gold Coast.
The Darren Weir-trained colt has to overcome the widest barrier (16) to win the famed Magic Millions 2YO for his array of owners that includes Armidale’s Jim Dedes, Harley Payne and Garry Russell.
All three are well known Armidale identities, Jim being the long-serving secretary of the Armidale Jockey club and Garry, a retired school teacher, also an AJC committeeman.
Harley is the licensee of the St Kilda Hotel, a valued sponsor and supporter of the AJC, as well as a racehorse owner of great note.
The trio are also part of what is called “the Golden Table”, a table in the public bar at the St Kilda where the three men regularly gather of a Saturday to have a punt and discuss all things racing and sport.
It garnered its name from a patron, Graeme McDonald, who named it the Golden Table one day as he passed and Jim, Harley, Garry and a few others were pondering their punting ploys that day.
“Originally there were 10 of us,” Jim Dedes said Thursday before heading to the Gold Coast for Yes Yes Yes’ Magic Millions’ date.
“Then four of us. Unfortunately Paul Johnson died and that left three of us.”
They had raced different horses too, without much luck.
“Had a few slow ones,” Jim laughed.
That all changed when one of the St Kilda’s patrons, Adrian Whitton, accidentally “rolled” down a grassed embankment at a Mildura race meeting.
He literally bumped into unheralded trainer Darren Weir, who helped him up and after a chat exchanged telephone numbers.
On his return to Armidale and the St Kilda Adrian passed the number to Jim and from there he and the affectionately named Golden Table contacted Weir to set up a share in a horse.
“That was Fast Entry,” Jim recalled.
“He won a race at Echuca or somewhere like that.
“Then we had Lasayaette. She won two or three midweekers at Sandown. This was all before Darren became as big as he is now too.”
A few years ago the Golden Table went again, taking a 10 percent share in a colt called Cliffs Edge.
“He’s now won $1.2million,” Jim Dedes added.
“He’s won two Group 2’s, and Group 3’s.”
After his success the Golden Table looked at taking a share in another horse and Jim broached the idea with Darren Weir at last year’s Grafton Cup Carnival where Weir was the special guest of the Clarence River Jockey Club.
“Darren said to ring his office and see what they had left,” Dedes said.
“I did. The young girl said they had a few shares in a couple of fillies but we didn’t want a filly. She rang back a couple of weeks later and said they had a five percent share in a Rubick colt after the 5 percent shareholder hadn’t paid up. So we got Yes Yes Yes.
“I rang Darren back last year to see how the colt was going. He told me he didn’t think he’d race early and that he rarely raced two-year-olds. Besides we already had one good one (Cliffs Edge) and you don’t think your going to get another good one.”
It was an ironic comment as Yes Yes Yes not only improved on the track but came to hand so quickly that Weir raced him.
A first up second has been followed by two wins at Moonee Valley and Flemington and catapulted him into the magic Millions.
A $7.50 chance he has had a three-day float trip to the Gold Coast to take his place in the rich Magic Millions.
“Drawing 21 wasn’t ideal,” Dedes said.
“He’ll come out of 16. A couple of Gai Waterhouses’ have also drawn wide so we might get a cart up from them.”
It’s going to be a big ask but not impossible the colt can fit in somewhere in running and then produce a powerful finish.
At least that’s what Jim, Garry and Harley hope.
“It’s a huge thrill for us, a dream come true really,” Jim Dedes said.
“For three blokes from Armidale to have a Magic Millions runner is amazing. We’ve been through plenty of slow ones and to have one up and going in the Magic Millions is brilliant.”
While the focus is on the Magic Millions Jim, who has been secretary of the Armidale Jockey Club for more than 20 years, has a date change for the 2019 Armidale Cup.
This year’s feature 1900m race, sponsored by Benita Johnson and named the Happy 50th Birthday Benita Johnson Armidale Cup, will be run on March 3.
Him, Garry and Harley would love nothing better than to be able to showcase the Magic Millions 2YO Classic trophy with the Armidale Cup on their beloved golden table and at the Armidale Racecourse.