Memories of Stathi linger for Cup
LOTS of people are going to the Ipswich Cup this Saturday but it’s one person who won’t be there who still saddens those who love him.
Jockey Stathi Katsidis’ death last October shocked the racing industry and many others.
Some are still trying to come to terms with it.
The 31-year-old Toowoomba jockey’s death came four months after he rode Our Lukas to an unprecedented second Ipswich Cup win.
Our Lukas’ trainer Rob Heathcote has set his gelding for a third straight Ipswich Cup on Saturday.
While Heathcote will be focussed on getting the best possible performance out of Our Lukas, Stathi will always be on his mind.
“Stathi was a friend to many of us in the industry. Let alone a champion jockey; he was a champion bloke as well,” Heathcote said.
“He’s still in my thoughts; every time I go to the races to be honest.
“Last year was a fantastic time.
"The owner was there to see Our Lukas race for the first time in the flesh and Stathi won the race for us so, yeah, it will be a moment of reflection on Saturday at some time I should think.”
Heathcote said the moment he heard the bad news would never leave him.
“I was like so many here,” he said.
“I was at the track at Eagle Farm.
"We had jump-outs on that particular morning and Stathi was due to turn up and ride in the jump-outs; he was riding several horses for me.
“It’s still very vivid for me; it was only when I made a couple of very hasty phone calls to a few journalists I knew that it was verified that he was in fact dead.
“Everyone walked around dazed for days, weeks with the incredible loss of it all. Even now.
“I would like to think that the senseless waste in the peak of his time would not be lost on everyone; certainly in the industry.”
Stathi Katsidis endeared himself to Ipswich racing fans after he won the Ipswich Cup last June on Our Lukas.
The flamboyant rider told the Queensland Times that winning the race by a nose on the first horse to win the Cup twice was one of his greatest thrills.
“This is an amazing crowd,” Katsidis said.
“This is better than any crowd over the Winter Carnival and that’s the honest to God truth.
"That’s why I got so excited.
“It’s a massive rush and it’s a great feeling to win it, especially when it’s a slog over the last 200m.
“I was quite anxious pulling up. To hear Wayne Wilson sing out, ‘Number three’ I was like, ‘Oh’.
“After he won last week I was very confident about today.
"I always worry about horses backing up, but the staff said to me on Monday that the horse was out-of-his-head amazing.”
Katsidis also revealed the music played by DJs in the infield helped pump him up – and Our Lukas - behind the starting gates before the Cup.
“When we were behind the gates they still had the techno music going and we could hear it as we were walking around,” he said.
“That’s a real pick-me-up and it even got the horse going as well. He’s usually a bit slow away but he got out the gates quickly.”