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Caulfield Cup consolation for Sir Dragonet owners after ex-Derby favourite dies

Incentivise (green): could take all the beating in the Melbourne Cup
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Saturday began with tears and it finished the same way for owner Ozzie Kheir.

The tears were flowing moments after Kheir got out of his shower at 7.30am when he saw numerous messages and texts on his phone. Such action so early in the morning was never going to be good news, but even so Kheir was left breathless and with a broken heart when he opened the first one.

The messages informed him that Sir Dragonet, his Cox Plate champion of last year, had broken a leg and was euthanised at the same venue of his 2020 heroics, The Valley, on Saturday morning.

Formerly trained by Aidan O'Brien, Sir Dragonet was a winner of the Chester Vase before finishing fifth in the 2019 Derby, placing in several Group races before making the move to Australia last year. 

He landed two Group 1 victories in Australia, including the Cox Plate in his first start since leaving O'Brien's yard in October 2020, and was entered in this year's Melbourne Cup. 

"They say that about racing, to enjoy the highs while they are there because the lows will come around as they did this morning," Kheir said on Saturday.

"I woke to the news in the morning and I was a mess. My heart was melted and I literally couldn't think of watching a race.

"I went for a walk for about three hours to clear my head and I just couldn't stop thinking about it. We love that horse and I am going to really miss him.

"To be honest, I couldn't think of anything that could cheer me up. Nothing."

There was one thing in the back of his mind, but he dared not contemplate it.

Just a few months ago, he and fellow owner Brae Sokolski, who also part-owned Sir Dragonet with him, made a big move to buy a 50 per cent share in Incentivise and he was the pin-up horse for the afternoon's Caulfield Cup.

Kheir, like racing fans across the country, watched agape as Incentivise came from the widest barrier of 18 and was still five-wide turning out of the straight for the first time. He finally found a position before jockey Brett Prebble asked Incentivise to go again before the home corner. And go he did.

On the line, his three and a half length margin over Nonconformist was the largest winning margin in a Caulfield Cup since the legendary Might And Power in 1997.

"We've got a very, very special horse on our hands," Kheir said.

"We will savor this moment and enjoy it. I do think this horse will become a cult hero and be something really special and be a horse that people will look back at and love watching his replays.

"I'm back. It's taken all day but I'm back. It was just such an amazing win and he's an amazing horse. I'll never forget that run today, as I'll never forget Sir Dragonet."

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I'll never forget that run today, as I'll never forget Sir Dragonet
E.W. Terms