SA TROTS - Emotional win for classy 2yo Rupert Ross

The debut win by two-year-old Rupert Ross at Globe Derby Park on Saturday proved extremely emotional.

While Rupert Ross stamped himself as a potential star of the future, connections shed a tear over the passing of the horse’s breeder Mark Webster, from Angle Vale.

In the first heat of the Kindergarten Stakes (1800m), Rupert Ross ($3.60), driven by Ryan Hryhorec, began quickly from gate three to assume the early lead.

Despite a strong challenge by Lethal Louise ($2.20 into $1.80 fav), he drew clear up the home straight to win by 16 metres leading to cheers and tears.

Webster, one of South Australia’s top trainer-drivers for about 40 years from the 1980s, lost a lengthy battle with illness in December last year, aged 58.

Despite his illness, Webster still retained a passion for harness racing and, together with wife Carolyn, bred a yearling out of their mare Closure, a 15-time winner.

One of his final wishes was to name the horse after his father, Rupert Ross Webster.

The initial application was refused because there was a Canadian author Rupert Ross, but a subsequent request was approved when the Webster story was explained.

Globe Derby Park trainer Lance Holberton had a strong friendship with Webster and was chosen to train the two-year-old.

“When he first entered the stable, I didn’t hold much hope for him,” Holberton said.

“Then one day when we were in a paddock he took off and I feared he was going to crash into a tree, but at the last minute he swerved and missed it.

“From then on, he left me astounded with his potential, he really turned a corner.

“His trials leading into tonight were good and he really stood up tonight – I believe he is potentially the best horse I have trained.”

Driver Ryan Hryhorec described Rupert Ross as “something special.”

“He had impressed me in his trials, but tonight he went up another level rating 1:59.8,” Hryhorec said.

“To break 2 minutes as a two-year-old in your first start, and do it untouched over the final stages, was incredible.”

Webster’s wife Carolyn was on track to enjoy the win.

“I think Mark had the best seat in the house to watch that,” she said.

“It was very exciting, and emotional.”

Rupert Ross is owned by Webster’s daughter Laura and Carolyn said the family, including their son Anthony, would enjoy the journey with the two-year-old.

Story & photo by Graham Fischer – @caughtbyfisch