When Giga Kick crossed the line on Saturday and won the $14 million Everest at the Royal Randwick Racecourse, it was a fairy tale.
The three-year-old gelding was a $21 outsider, had a rookie trainer in Clayton Douglas, and was simply lucky to be alive.
46,221 avid gamblers – some racing fans, some not – gathered in Randwick to watch the richest race on grass, and for many it was just a fait accompli that champion horse Nature Strip would go after each other.
The gelding had won $19 million in prize money, won nine Group 1 races, was mentored by Australia’s leading horse trainer Chris Waller and won $1.90 to win the sprint race.
Giga Kick, ridden by an ecstatic Craig Williams, wins the $14 million Everest at Royal Randwick on Saturday
But he was no match for Giga Kick, who had only started four races and had a paltry $393,200 in prize money to his name.
Veteran hoop Craig Williams scorched out of the house to easily gobble up Nature Strip, eventually winning by half a length against fellow roughies Private Eye and Mazu.
But this is not a “horse wins big race” story.
As the rowdy mob lashed out at cult Neil Diamond and hit Sweet Caroline, 27-year-old Douglas must have pinched himself as his three-year-old galloped to the starting gates.
More than 46,000 people gathered at Royal Randwick on Saturday – a 50-year record – to watch Giga Kick win the richest race on grass
Three-year-old gelding Giga Kick returns to the scales with jockey Craig Williams on board after winning the race as a $21 outsider
Just a year earlier, Giga Kick was on the brink of death after a particularly nasty bout of colic, a tummy problem that can be treated in some cases, but deadly in others.
At the time, the gelding was at a stud farm, which partnered with his $1.8 billion BRW wealthy list owner-breeder Johnathan Munz; whose race manager is Douglas’ uncle Rod.
“We had written him off, we thought he was gone. You don’t see them coming through that when he was in the state he was in,” Rod Douglas said News Corp of Giga Kick’s terrible battle with colic.
Giga Kick race manager Rod Douglas, who is also the uncle of training winning Clayton Douglas, raises the diamond-encrusted Everest trophy
Stud manager Mike Fleming agreed, saying, “Most normal horses wouldn’t have survived. It just proves that he (Giga Kick) is one in a million.”
The freak of nature survived, but was not expected to become a top racehorse at all.
Giga Kick couldn’t score at any of the top sales (like the Inglis auction) – so it was given to Douglas, who had just started training after a successful jockey career.
“We actually had him written off the books at the time, he was probably the worst horse we had,” said Rod Douglas, who is still the gelding’s race manager, grateful for his bank account.
Cousin Clayton won the time-honored jump race, the Grand Annual Steeplechase and two Group 3 races, but was untested as a trainer – so Giga Kick was one of the first runners to test his mettle as a rider.
27-year-old rookie trainer Clayton Douglas celebrates after winning $14 million race
The horse was immediately neutered (its balls had fallen off for lack of a better description) – and it had immediate results.
Giga Kick rocketed by more than four lengths on its debut with Douglas’ then-girlfriend Jamie Kah aboard in February, before winning his next three races on a spell.
As an interesting sidebar, Kah kept saying ‘oh my god’ as she watched Douglas win Everest from Melbourne, where she raced in the Caulfield Cup.
Now $6.2 million richer on his first start, Kah got caught up in the infamous ‘jockey’s gone wild’ AirBnb scandal – which ultimately led to the couple breaking up.
Just a few months later, and Giga Kick has not only escaped death and sold, but he is the winner of the world’s richest grass race and is the talking point of the racing world.
A cheering Douglas said after the race that although his runner had a few disappointing moments as a youngster, he was always confident that he would be fine.
“I had a lot of faith in this horse. He’s a really good horse. He’s a superstar. As a three-year-old he probably wasn’t good enough, but I had a lot of confidence in him. He’s just such a professional,” Douglas said on Channel 7 after the race.
“You can see today, 53 kg, ridden like that, it’s electric … it (winning) is a bit of a whirlwind … he’s a star. Watch out, the newcomer is nearby.’
Clayton Douglas (left) with Giga Kick after the gelding won the Danehill Stakes on Oct. 1 in Flemington
For his part, Williams was also confident that he could win on the horse than most people had written off.
‘We’re really lucky. I believe and trust this horse. Clayton Douglas, you talk about how young a trainer is, but he is way ahead of his time. I’m just lucky to be part of the ride,” an excited Williams said on the broadcast.
Douglas’ background as a jockey seems to serve him well when it comes to making this fairy tale come true.
Based in Mornington, south of Melbourne, the Victorian knew what the gelding had overcome to get to the $14 million race – and was confident in what he could achieve.
Clayton Douglas (left) and Craig Williams (right) hug after winning Everest with Giga Kick
‘I have ridden many good horses in my time. This horse (Giga Kick) is just doing things that people haven’t seen,” Douglas said on Channel 7.
“I noticed that on Tuesday (Giga Kick was good) and probably people thought I was a little cocky and stuff, but Craig Williams had a lot of faith in this horse. He’s a star.
“I just love the owner (Menz) so much… he put his neck on the line to take a three-year-old and do what he did…very happy,” Douglas said.
You would think this would be the end of all the obstacles Giga Kick has overcome to win the race. There is more to this fairy tale.
Giga Kick is a sire of Scissor Kick.
Craig Williams (right) drives home from the outside to win Everest for Private Eye (number 6)
Papa doesn’t face an exorbitant fee at a lavish Hunter Valley stud, no: He’s in Tunisia’s racing outpost and can maintain a horse for as little as $800.
Compare that to Nature Strip’s father, Nicconi, who has a service fee of over $28,000.
Or the father of Godolphin’s Everest runner Kementari, Lohnro, which cost $66,000 last year.
So all racing fans, both new and old, who broke a 50-year attendance record at Randwick can not only remember the day they saw Giga Kick beat the 2022 Everest, but now understand how important it all was.
The stuff of fairy tales – but as you can imagine, there are still plenty of chapters to be written in the stories of Giga Kick and Clayton Douglas.
Pocketing $6.2 million and winning a diamond-encrusted trophy worth over $320,000 could be a point you’d leave the bookmark in, that said.
The stormy spring racing season continues this Friday for the Group 1 Manikato Stakes at Mooney Valley, before one of the top races on the calendar takes place on Saturday: the $5 million 2040m Group 1 Cox Plate of $5 million.