YES Yes Yes will continue a dream racing journey for three Armidale men when the juvenile lines up in Saturday’s $2 million Magic Millions 2YO Classic (1200m) at the Gold Coast.
The Darren Weir-trained colt has to overcome the widest barrier (21) to win the famed race for his array of owners including Armidale’s Jim Dedes, Harley Payne and Garry Russell.
All three are well known Armidale identities. Dedes is the long-serving secretary of the Armidale Jockey Club, Russell is a retired school teacher and an AJC committeeman and Payne 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 of the pub, Graeme McDonald, who named it the Golden Table one day as he passed, when Dedes, Payne, Russell and a few others were pondering their punting ploys that day.
“Originally there were 10 of us,” Dedes said. “Then four of us. Unfortunately Paul Johnson died and that left three of us.”
The trio had raced other horses, without much luck. “Had a few slow ones,” Dedes 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 then-unheralded trainer Darren Weir, who helped him up. After a chat, they exchanged telephone numbers.
On his return to Armidale and the St Kilda, Whitton passed on the number to Dedes and from there he and the other Golden Table member 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 mid-weekers at Sandown. This was all before Darren became as big as he is now, too.”
A few years ago the Golden Table took a 10 per cent share in a colt called Cliffs Edge.
“He’s now won $1.2 million,” Dedes said. “He’s won two Group 2s and Group 3s.”
After Cliffs Edge’s success, the Golden Table looked at taking a share in another horse and Jim broached the idea with 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 per cent share in a Rubick colt after the five per cent 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 a win each at Moonee Valley and Flemington that catapulted him into the Magic Millions.
A $7.50 chance, he has had a three-day float trip to the Gold Coast, after being bumped from a plane on Monday.
“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 it is not impossible. The colt can fit in somewhere in running and then produce a powerful finish. At least that’s what Dedes, Payne and Russell want.
“It’s a huge thrill for us, a dream come true really,” 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.”
The trio would love nothing better than to be able to showcase the Magic Millions 2YO Classic trophy at the Golden Table and at Armidale Racecourse.