History was made in the St Albert’s College Cup on Saturday when Inverell-trained Azzalin finished first in a dead heat alongside Moonlight Spy.
It was a first for the Armidale race course, and for trainer Theresa Lennon.
She came home with two impressive trophies after six-year-old maiden Charming Charlie won the Bidfood Armidale Maiden Plate.
“I only so far had had one trophy in my whole career as a trainer, so to get two on one day… It’s definitely so far the best race day that we’ve had.”
Ridden by Peter Graham, Azzalin finished the 1300 metre track in 1:17.88.
Despite a protest from Moonlight Spy, the stewards maintained the result, awarding both with first place.
Even Lennon couldn’t tell if he’d won.
“I, to be honest, thought we didn’t get it. I thought we would have come second,” she said.
She saw Azzalin coming home strong on the outside after initially falling back, but could tell he was tiring. From her spectator position behind the winning post, she couldn’t be sure who had crossed the line first.
“I was super happy with the win at the end of the day, and I couldn’t ask for anything more.”
Azzalin had pulled off the same trick once before – winning another dead heat in Coffs Harbour in 2014, before Lennon owned him.
“In Armidale, they have probably eight or nine race meetings a year, and they have been probably racing for the last 50 years or so - they never had a dead heat before. It is something that is very rare,” Lennon explained.
She calls Azzalin her lucky horse, but admits he was difficult to train at first.
“I got him when he was seven. He did win a lot of races before that,” she said.
“So he was a proven horse. Then to come here… it seemed like he didn’t want to be here.”
She began training Azzalin as she would a sports horse taking on hack rounds, jumping, and even going to pony club.
“He seemed to like that. I think they sometimes get sick of going around in circles and the track,” she said.
After six years as a maiden, Charming Charlie’s 1:25.46 win in the 1400 metre Maiden Plate, was equally exciting.
“He had a few placings, but never got to finish it off, so that was a very nice start,” Lennon said.
She praised jockey Graham for his hard work, and said he did really well on the day.
“It was a fairly hard ride,” she said.
“It was wonderful.”
Winning in Armidale was a personal victory for Lennon, who felt they had a very difficult track. Other local trainers were there, and celebrated along with her.