PROUD IN PURPLE AND PINK: Local jockey Tracy O'Hara proudly wears Carly-Mae Pye's racing colours before setting off for the Carly-Mae Pye Memorial Race at Callaghan Park on Saturday. Chris Ison ROK191014ccaulfieldra
That's how Rockhampton horse trainer Ricky Vale described the feeling after Shepiktus ($5.50) won the inaugural Carly-Mae Pye Memorial Class 1 Handicap (1100m) at Callaghan Park on Saturday.
In front of more than 5000 racegoers who turned out for the St Peter's Caulfield Cup Race Day, Adrian Coome, one of Queensland's best country jockeys and a long-time friend of Pye, showed his class by steering Shepiktus first past the post in the second race of the day.
Equally classy was Vale's post-race gesture which saw the trainer gift the special trays he was presented with to Pye's grieving partner Tim Cook.
Shepiktus finished ahead of pre-race form favourite She's Got Beauty, ridden by apprentice jockey Taylor Williams, and the Alan Jones-trained Idol Factor to hand Vale his first win at Callaghan Park since July 31.
Sentimental favourite Zaha Express, ridden by Tracy O'Hara and trained by Cook, finished sixth.
"It was a bittersweet victory as everyone would've liked to see Timmy's horse win for Timmy and Carly-Mae and their family and friends," Vale said.
"It would have been fitting for Timmy's horse to win it. I've been a mate of Cooky's for 10 or so years now and it's been a tough few days for him so, as I said, it was bittersweet to win it."
Coome, who combined with trainer John Manzelmann to win the first race in Mackay yesterday, was a long-time friend of Pye who tragically died after a race fall at Callaghan Park last Monday.
"Adrian has always been a big part Carly-Mae's life so it was good for him and it was a special moment for him to win the race in her honour," Vale said.
Vale said the aptly-named Shepiktus had a strong link to Pye.
Apprentice jockey Zoe White, soon to be 16 and who was mentored by and idolised Pye, had been riding Shepiktus in recent times.
"It's funny you ask because Timmy's other apprentice Zoe White started riding her a little while ago during track work," said Vale when asked about Shepiktus.
"Carly-Mae had been teaching her after she and Timmy reintroduced her to riding.
"As for the name, apparently they went to these horse sales and weren't going to buy a horse but she walked straight up to them, and they thought 'she picked us'.
"But it's a nice touch (the thought of Pye playing a role in the win)."
While Coome added two wins to his growing tally, it was Dale Evans who starred on one of the Rockhampton Jockey Club's biggest days.
After a slow start, Evans finished his day with a flurry by winning the last three races of the meeting.
Evans combined with Tom Button on His Redemption ($4) to win the Hahn 3.5 Maiden Plate (1300m) before handing trainer Raymond West his first win of the day on Say I Won't ($2.60) in the Summer Bright BenchMark 70 Handicap (1100m).
Evans wrapped up his day with a narrow win on the Darryl Gardiner-trained favourite Victory Hotel ($1.80) in the Bus To The Giddy Goat Class 3 Plate (1300m).