Desleigh Forster reveals her secret weapon as she looks to bolster Apache Chase’s win in the Kingsford-Smith Cup by knocking out the Stradbroke Handicap on Saturday.
The Stradbroke Handicap has had its fair share of weird and wacky secret weapons, but never before has a goat been part of the team leading a leading contender for Queensland Racing’s most coveted prize.
GOAT has taken on a new meaning of late, often used to describe the “Greatest Of All Time”, but Eagle Farm trainer Desleigh Forster won’t care what it means if her latest stable acquisition Eddie the Goat can help bring Apache Chase over. to get the streak Saturday at the Stradbroke.
Her $50,000 bargain is the top local contender after his Group 1 Kingsford-Smith Cup win two weeks ago, a win that meant more to Forster than any of the 347 she had before.
Although she was a mainstay of racing in Queensland after making her way to the great smoke of Ilfracombe – a town known more for its football prowess than producing Group 1 winners – Forster had never broken through at the top level until Apache Chase came.
Many leading stables operate more like a well-oiled production line with huge numbers, but Forster jokes that she can count her employees on one hand.
It’s where Eddie the Goat comes into action.
“I don’t know if he helps the horses perform better, but I know they all seem to love him,” Forster said of Eddie.
“He’s walking around and you can see when he’s in front of their box, they’ll come out and stick their heads out to look around, they’ll scratch his back or grab his horns.
“The people who own Apache (Chase) – the Sherrin family – asked me if I wanted a goat, that’s where it came from.
“I just thought ‘why not?’ He’s only a baby so I said send him down. I didn’t really know how he was going to settle here, but he loves it and everyone here seems to love him too.”
However, if Forster’s success were pinned on a goat, her eye for a horse sharpened while working under the legendary Bart Cummings and Black Caviar’s trainer Peter Moody would be too small for her to venture out alone.
Outside of a goat and pet dog in the stables, Forster is hesitant about what makes her surgery different from all the others.
She believes the small number she has working allows her to spend more time with each horse to understand what makes them tick.
“I don’t really do anything different than most other stables here, we only have a small stable, so we spend a lot of time with them.”
What becomes apparent on race day is Forster’s passion for the game, something that comes from her upbringing in the country, she says.
“If I can’t be competitive in any sport I play, any sport, I’m not playing,” she says with a wry smile.
“If I go out and get beaten in something or if I play a game and I’m not good at it then I just have to be very competitive in what I play or I don’t play.
“It’s always been that way. Many rural people are competitive”
In an ominous warning to rivals, Forster says the step up to 1400m will put Apache Chase right in its place as she tries to land her second Group 1 in as many weeks.
Apache Chase is no longer the hot and heavy horse that would make his way through a race, something that undone him a year ago in the Stradbroke as a three-year-old.
A year later, Forster says the four-year-old has turned from a boy into a man.
“1400m is probably his target. He ran second behind Private Eye as a three year old in the (Queensland) Guineas (Eagle Farm) and also woke up early that day,” she said.
“Speed is his best asset. He is exactly where I want him to be, I really couldn’t be happier with him.
“He is a very different horse this year. We’ve put in a lot of work to get him to settle down and you can see it’s working.”
Forster is so confident in Apache Chase that she says he’d be an ideal horse for the $15 million The Everest in the spring, if they got a place in the lucrative race.
“I would love to get him out for an Everest, I think he would be an ideal horse fresh over 1200 meters,” she said.
“He’s quite fast, he proved that when he won (Kingsford-Smith Cup), he led Rothfire, who I consider fast, so I think he would be an ideal Everest horse.”
Originally published as Eddie the Goat bringing Desleigh Forster and Apache Chase to Stradbroke Handicap glory