Fleet Dreams gives Cosgriff family an emotional win at Cranbourne
Emotions flowed for the Cosgriff family still coming to terms with a tragic loss when their galloper won at a recent Cranbourne meeting.
Darcy, John and Anthony Cosgriff with Fleet Dreams. Picture: Racing Photos via Getty Images
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Journalism student Darcy Cosgriff and his family celebrated Fleet Dreams’ emotional victory in the Cranbourne Coronthian this month.
Cosgriff is still coming to terms with the tragic death of his brother, Rohan, who was Fleet Dreams’ strapper. This is his story.
I’d like to think that the tale of the small share I own in Cranbourne Corinthian winner Fleet Dreams was already pretty good.
When we announced we would be taking him to the picnics last season, a few of his owners wanted to move on.
Given I had known Fleet Dreams since he was a yearling, mucked his yard out hundreds of times, and strapped him for the run of outs that led him to be a picnic horse, dad felt it fitting to award me five per cent of him when we redid the ownership.
His picnic campaign last season was excellent.
Strapped every time by my late younger brother Rohan, and capped off by a gritty Healesville Cup win, the horse didn’t put in a bad run for months.
A great advert for the picnic racing circuit – but nothing compared to what unfolded at on a Friday night in Cranbourne earlier this month.
It’s been just over two months since I got the worst phone call of my life, telling me that Rohan had taken his own life at 17.
“Last person you’d expect” doesn’t even begin to cover it. Rohan was the happiest, most caring person I knew, and his love for racing was infinite.
Fleet Dreams, ridden by Jack Virgona, scored an emotional win for the Cosgriff family at Cranbourne earlier this month. Picture: Racing Photos via Getty Images
When Rohan was born, dad was resident vet for trainer Mark Johnson and the best part of our mornings would be watching a string of Europe’s best horses pass our farmhouse.
My favourite picture of Rohan and I shows us at Cheltenham on Gold Cup day, poring over the racebook to find the next winner.
If it were any other two kids, you’d swear it was staged. But for us, racing was just coded into our DNA.
Since Rohan’s passing, every subsequent runner we’ve prepared has lent a slight sense of comfort and normality, but also a great deal of hurt.
The post-race discourse is always missing one person.
We’d targeted the Corinthian as soon as Fleet Dreams crossed the line in last season’s Picnic Grand Final.
But with heavy rain hitting Cranbourne, a much shorter trip than ideal and a horrible barrier, we were unsure on the night if his 23/1 quote was over or justified.
Coincidentally, it was my 20th birthday, so I was sitting on the rails with mates, several beers deep, and chewing on my nails.
Rohan Cosgriff with the Healesville Cup last year.
Traditionally, our horses have celebrated my birthday by shoving me into the mounting yard fence and then running eighth.
But as soon as the race began, and Fleet Dreams slotted into a perfect one-one spot behind an abnormally fast pace for picnic horses, even the natural pessimist in me couldn’t shake the feeling that there were strange forces at work during that race.
At the turn, our boy took three strides and within an instant, the race was his to lose.
His turn of foot was uncharacteristic, dare I say supernatural, brought on by a peach of a ride from regular jockey Jack Virgona.
The last two furlongs are a blur – I just barely remember seeing him storm passed and looking up at the big screen to make sure the angle wasn’t deceiving me.
It was a dominant win for a horse who so often just grinds races out.
I sprinted to the mounting yard, nearly taking out the horse’s strapper (my granddad) on the way and found dad (Fleet Dream’s trainer). We grabbed each other tight and let out so many emotions we’d had balled up for two months.
It was almost perfect – but it should’ve been Rohan grabbing the horse afterwards.
In dad’s emotional post-race interview, he said we had “divine help”. I couldn’t have put it better myself.
We watched the replay 10 times in the winning owner’s bar over some mid-strength refreshments, and I’ve watched it about a hundred times since.
Darcy Cosgriff with brother Rohan at Cheltenham on Gold Cup day.
The victory is of course bittersweet, and the fact that the horse took his biggest scalp without Rohan there to share in the celebrations will always hurt.
But despite this, it is a win that brings immense pride and joy. Hand on heart, it is one of the best stories I know in racing, and I got to live it.
Hopefully, this win can be a springboard for our stable. We’ve got several horses knocking on the door for a win, and some very promising youngsters.
No matter how well we do, however, we will permanently be one stablehand short.
I’ll never get to see or speak to Rohan again, even though there’s so much I want to say to him.
But for a few minutes at Cranbourne racecourse, I knew he was there with me.
It was a birthday present from above – the best present I will ever get.