Fields Of Omagh

Fields Of Omagh (Image: Racing Photos)

McEvoy's monumental Cox Plate win

Tony McEvoy has won several Group 1s throughout his training career, but he can pinpoint the exact one that changed his standing in the racing industry.

In 2001, McEvoy took over as the head trainer at Lindsay Park following the tragic death of Peter Hayes, whose predecessors in the position had been his brother David Hayes and before that their father, the legendary Colin Hayes.

Two years later, McEvoy gave the famous training operation its fifth Cox Plate triumph, when Fields Of Omagh scored an upset win in the weight-for-age championship event.

"It was everything for me," McEvoy said of that Cox Plate win.

"When Peter died in 2001 and I took over as the trainer, the first non-Hayes to train out of Lindsay Park, there were a lot of doubters, a lot of people weren't not sure whether I was up for the job.

"I honestly believe what Fields Of Omagh did for me, winning that Cox Plate, gave me acceptance. People then realized that 'Shit, maybe he can train this bloke'.

"My working life got easier from that point on."


The Vault

Fields Of Omagh was one of the horses McEvoy inherited when he was promoted as Lindsay Park's trainer. The son of Rubiton took a few starts before he reached his potential and became the star weight-for-age galloper he's fondly remembered as.

"I think he was a six-run maiden and he was just dopey, he just couldn't quite work it out," McEvoy said.

"He was running well but just not getting it right. Then, the penny dropped and away he went and he won eight-straight, I think it was.

"He just became very tough, very honest and loved a true fight."

Fields Of Omagh headed into the 2003 Cox Plate having finished fifth in the race the year before. His run in The Valley's showpiece event was his third for the campaign, following his effort to run on for second under the topweight of 57kg in the Toorak Handicap.

"We had a really good prep coming into the race, he used to peak at that time of the year, the third week of October, he would peak every year," McEvoy recalled.

"It was his perfect time and the horse was in absolutely tip-top shape. All the rage was Lonhro and Defier of course, they were the two spruik horses, but especially Lonhro, who was the champion."

On the day of the Cox Plate, Lonhro was the $1.70 favourite, while Fields Of Omagh was at $17.

However, McEvoy and jockey Steven King planned to maximise one of Fields Of Omagh's strengths and in doing so, exploit Lonhro's key weakness.

"We had a very fit horse, we knew he'd get around the Valley better than Lonhro," the trainer revealed.

"The plan was to get cracking on the bend and get them chasing hard.

"I reckon, if I remember correctly, Lonhro lost about two lengths on the bend, he just couldn't get around The Valley and that was the difference in the finish."

WATCH: Fields Of Omagh's 2003 Cox Plate

Fields Of Omagh's win in the Cox Plate 20 years ago proved to be the first of his two victories in the famous 2040-metre contest that he remarkably ran in on five occasions.

The grand campaigner went on to win it again in 2006, this time under the training of David Hayes, in what proved to be a fitting farewell to racing.

Over the six years of his career, Fields Of Omagh won 13 races from 45 starts, including three G1s, while he competed in four different countries in that time.

He then enjoyed his years in retirement at Living Legends, before passing away in June this year at the age of 25.

While McEvoy has been involved with some outstanding thoroughbreds in his lifetime, he'll never forget that impact that Fields Of Omagh had on him.

"He fills most of my heart, old Fieldsy," he said.

"I've been associated with Dulcify and Special, I rode So Called, ran second on him in a Derby. Great horses, but Fieldsy did so much for me, he holds most of the space."