For SA racing fans, the highs and lows of 2020 are perfectly captured in one simple item: Gytrash face masks.
Who had that on their dance card 12 months ago?
The hitherto absurd concept suddenly makes complete sense, given COVID-19 has dominated world headlines and several South Aussie horses have emerged as turf superstars – led by Gytrash.
The once-underrated sprinter is among the popular elects for Saturday’s $15 million TAB Everest at Randwick, joined in the field by fellow Croweater, Behemoth.
The Gytrash face masks are the brainchild of Adelaide businessman Simon Charlton, who owns 10 per cent of Morphettville trainer Gordon Richards’ stable star.
‘Watching Gytrash run’ sits atop Simon’s ‘my favourite things’ list and once the horse’s 2020 Everest slot was confirmed he set about ticking off preparatory boxes, while maintaining his penchant for proudly – and colourfully – showing his allegiances.
“With the COVID thing, I always had in mind that face masks might be needed, in planes and maybe on race day,” Simon said.
“Six weeks ago I thought they might be essential if we got to Everest day.”
Fortunately, restrictions have eased in recent weeks and Simon will be among a local contingent of about 40 people heading to Randwick to cheer on Gytrash this Saturday. Ultimately, the impressive face masks – designed by Simon and made at Adelaide business The Banner Crew – may be superfluous, but expect them to get a public airing.
“Even if we aren’t required to wear them, I think we’ll still pull them out and showboat them,” Simon laughed.
“For the design, we just used the photo of him winning the Black Caviar Lightning (at Flemington earlier this year), then we took out Redzel and others around him.
“I was pretty keen to have Mount Everest in the background too.
“They were done pretty quickly, but I think they’ve come up really well.”
Simon and the Gytrash supporters will be resplendent in blue and white next Saturday, including specially made caps and ties – plus the face masks.
Simon’s son Luke and daughter Monique will also be flying the Gytrash flag, back in Adelaide at a special function at Morphettville.
Every bit as enthusiastic as his father, Luke’s connection to the horse has helped spurn an extra pocket of supporters at the Goodwood Saints Football Club, where Luke plays and Simon coaches.
“Brad, one of my best mates – who’s since been to Melbourne with us and was there for the Black Caviar Lightning – was out at footy training one day, and he came up to me and was talking horses and had no idea that we were owners of Gytrash,” Luke said.
“He was talking to another couple of boys and they were saying ‘This thing’s going around this weekend and goes all right’.
“I turned around to Brad and said ‘Gytrash’s our horse’ and ever since then, around the club, every training, every game, it’s always Gytrash, Gytrash, Gytrash. Now hundreds of people know about it at the club.
“We’ll all have the blue and white ties on at Morphettville. We love it.”
Simon’s family has been involved with the Gordon Richards stable for about 15 years and has raced other winners, such as Belfast Boy and I Am Gypsy.
“But Gytrash is by far is the best horse we’ve been lucky enough to be involved with,” Simon said.
“It’s great for Gordon, because Gordon and Jacqui (Heaney) are great social people, they’re good to be around and – on behalf of the owners – we’d like to thank them and their amazing team for giving us this opportunity. That includes Damien, Donald, Midge, Nicole, Desiree, Olaf, Dylan and JC.
“To get to the Everest is quite a dream, it’s a bit bizarre, really. It just doesn’t get any better.”
An SA horse winning Australia’s richest race would be ‘peak 2020’ – for all the right reasons.
Simon and Luke Charlton with their Gytrash face masks ahead of the 2020 TAB Everest at Randwick this Saturday.