FIRST WIN: Sheer Persistence took out the win in Townsville.
FIRST WIN: Sheer Persistence took out the win in Townsville. Contributed

Sheer Persistence wins in Townsville

THE Tom Button-trained Sheer Persistence graduated to open company in style last Tuesday with a 0.3L win in Townsville.

Stepping out in the Byrnes Holdings Open Handicap over 1400m, the heavily backed commodity came from a clear last at the bend to run down the smart Kwanza and the very fancied $1.70 starting favourite Green Anchor.

Sheer Persistence is raced by a syndicate led by the Wiltshire boys from Alpha, including Alpha Jockey Club president Kevin Wiltshire and sons Wade and Kurt.

Made up of boys primarily from the Central Highlands and Central West regions, the syndicate also boasts two time Queensland Confraternity Shield merit team member, Springsure's Charlie Mayne, Nic Fordyce from Nebo and racing writer Kobie O'Brien.

Comprising mostly boys from Rockhampton Grammar School and Saint Brendan's College, it is rounded out by Bryce Pini (also from Nebo), Tom Smith (Rolleston), Blake Ballard from Longreach and Alpha local Garry Dodge.

After discussions about racehorse ownership, following the success of Kevin Wiltshire's Just One Wish and Heartbreak Harry, the plan was put in action when Wiltshire approached Rockhampton leading trainer Tom Button about purchasing a horse, capable of winning the 1300m Twin Hills Cup.

Button came back to the syndicate with an offer to buy the moderately performed Sheer Persistence, out of the Natalie McCall stable at the Sunshine Coast.

The five-year-old mare was valued at $5000, however after a 9th placing at Beaudesert, there was plenty of hesitation with the syndicate eventually settling for $4500.

Sheer Persistence's first start for the syndicate, under the watch of Rockhampton trainer Tim Cook, struck instant gold, taking out the Twin Hills Cup and a $7575 cheque, recouping her purchase price of $4500 in her first outing.

Part owner Kobie O'Brien spoke of the thrills and spills of the Sheer Persistence ride to date, claiming her Twin Hills victory was one to remember.

"I was in disbelief to begin with,” he admitted.

"For everyone except Kevvy, it was our first horse, first race and first win all at once. We were all on top of the world, it couldn't have gone any better.”

Cleaning up at Twin Hills, Sheer Persistence has now gone on to win four more races for the syndicate, coming in for the minors a further two times from 10 starts for the boys.

Rarely out of the money, she has gained quite a following all over the state with big money coming for the mare on every occasion so far.

Though always quietly confident, O'Brien acknowledged things hadn't always gone to plan.

"She ran 5th in a BM60 in Rocky her very next start, it was a bit of an anti climax. The gap was there but she just didn't take it,” he said.

"She had a start on Caulfield Cup day in Rocky, which is the biggest day of the year for the locals. There was a pretty big crowd there and word got around, she opened at about $15 for memory, and jumped at $3.60.”

Winning races at Gladstone, Taroom and most recently Townsville, Sheer Persistence has now earned $32,425 for the syndicate from 10 starts.

With the big market moves of late ($5 into $1.70 at Taroom, $14 into $5 at Townsville), it is clear the purchase is paying good dividends for the first time owners, however not everyone is enjoying the success.

NRL rising star Kurt Wiltshire, who has been named in the Queensland Emerging Origin squad, will be doing plenty of extras at training this week after the Aaron Payne trained Kwanza was nailed by Sheer Persistence close the line in a close finish to the race.

At $7.50 in the betting Kwanza looked a good chance close to home however Queensland's own Magic Man Wanderson D'avilia ensured Wiltshire would attain the bragging rights at training.

Trainer and former Cowboys hooker and NRL grand finalist Aaron Payne is also the coach of the Cowboys under 20s squad with plenty of banter believed to be exchanged between the pair in the lead up to the race.

The win for Sheer Persistence took Tom Button's tally to 20 for season 2017-18, with Rockhampton's leading trainer showing an uncanny knack in recent times of turning under-performed gallopers fortunes around, most notably Schoorwin.

The now retired 84-start veteran was a winner of several feature country sprints in a successful stay with 11 wins for the stable, highlighted by the gelding being crowned the Capricorn horse of the year.

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