JUSTIN Reynolds claims he will never forget the night he watched Castalong Shadow win the 2017 Gold Crown Final, but now the star gelding has provided him with another moment he will long remember.
On Friday night at the Bathurst Paceway the Oberon reinsman was in the gig behind Castalong Shadow as he took out the annual Oberon Cup (1,730 metres).
Given the list of past winners include the likes of Steve Turnbull's Smooth Satin (2006) and Barry Lew's Karloo Mick (2009, 2011), it was a result Reynolds relished.
"It is really, really good to win my home cup, a massive thanks to Geoff [Simpson, trainer] to put me on him, he's a very, very nice horse," Reynolds said.
"Being from Oberon and winning this, yeah, it's very special.
"I never thought I'd get to drive a horse like him, when the nominations came out and Geoff rang me and asked me if I wanted to drive him, it was really exciting."
It was in February 2017 when Reynolds, then a 17-year-old, drove his first winner at the Bathurst Paceway, getting the job done on Presidential Dude.
But just over a month later when the Bathurst Harness Racing Club staged the finals night of its annual Gold Crown Carnival, Reynolds was a spectator.
He watched on as Simpson guided Castalong Shadow to victory in the Group 1 Gold Crown Final as a $24.70 chance, the Lithgow trainer-driver drawing loud cheers and applause as he held the trophy aloft.
"I was there, I'll never forget that night, the atmosphere was amazing," Reynolds said.
The crowd on Friday night who watched the Oberon Cup might not have been as large, and this time Castalong Shadow was the $3.40 favourite.
But he produced another huge run and Reynolds was just as popular as the victor.
Going from barrier five, the speed was on early at the front. Reynolds guided the five-year-old Shadow Play x Leslie Jay horse three-wide and it was not until they headed into the back straight he found the death seat outside Last Party.
"They all sort of came out very quick and that's how we ended up," the driver said.
It was a big effort, especially as the first quarter was covered in a 27.7 seconds split. But Castalong Shadow had more to give.
By the 450m mark he had taken the lead and though Mister Haywood ($6.50) came at him down the inside, Castalong Shadow was too good. He won by 1.8m.
While Simpson was delighted with Friday night's victory, saying: "He went very well tonight, Justin drove him very well", he is reluctant to campaign his stable star at Menangle Park.
From 14 starts Castalong Shadow has had at the venue, his only win came in the Group 3 Rod Fitzpatrick Memorial as a two-year-old in April 2017.
Tricky draws and stiff competition have made it hard for the talented gelding to show his class.
"Every time he does [go to Menangle] he just finds it hard to run the times down there, they're a bit quick for him," the trainer said.