WINNING FEELING: Connections of After Baron, including jockey Kirk Matheson and trainer Neil Creighton celebrate after their success in the $25,000 Casino Cup.
WINNING FEELING: Connections of After Baron, including jockey Kirk Matheson and trainer Neil Creighton celebrate after their success in the $25,000 Casino Cup. Patrick Gorbunovs

Dream result for Matheson

DREAMS came true for Kirk Matheson and a few punters as well when the jockey claimed victory in a heart-stopping Casino Cup.

The hometown hoop triumphed aboard After Baron in a thrilling finish to the $25,000 Express Examiner Casino Cup Proudly Supported by the Northern Star (1400m) yesterday.

Matheson's success was a popular win. The horse is trained by Casino's Neil Creighton and jointly owned by a local syndicate.

Former Casino High School student Matheson said it was a memorable triumph.

"To win your hometown cup is something special," the 20-year-old said.

"This is something that I've always wanted to do, especially with the horse I had today.

"It's fantastic."

After Baron started a $3.20 favourite thanks to some good recent form, including a win in the $45,000 Golburn Valley Hcp (1200m) at Doomben last Saturday.

The four-year-old was in charge of the Casino Cup coming down the straight but victory was almost snatched away as Yabbra, trained by Casino's Leo Clapham and ridden by Marlon Dolendo, powered through to the post.

There was a breathless wait before After Baron's victory by a nose was confirmed, prompting huge cheers from the home crowd.

"Marlon said afterwards he thought he'd got me," said Matheson, who has only been a jockey for an estimated two years.

"I was getting a bit nervous when I saw (Tabbra) coming up.

"After Baron is a tough bugger though and I knew we could win."

Jeff Brasch's Ideal Position finished third in the race, one of the biggest dates of the year on the Northern Rivers racing circuit.

Delighted Mark Milligan, part of the seven-strong local syndicate that owns the horse, was emotional at the finish.

"We got the win in Doomben, but this one was just as good," he said.

"This is a dream true."

Milligan thanked Creighton and his daughter Sophie, who acts as the horse's strapper, for their work.

Casino Jockey Club president Bede Pratt agreed it was a popular win.

"I don't think I've ever heard such noise coming from the grandstand," he said.

"My congratulations to the winners."

Racing continues on the Far North Coast tomorrow at Murwillumbah.



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