When Mystic Journey crossed the line to claim the inaugural running of the world’s richest mile race, the exuberant celebrations were not confined to the three men instrumental in turning her from an $11,000 purchase to a filly with more than $3 million in the bank.
Owner Wayne Roser, trainer Adam Trinder and jockey Anthony Darmanin had all played a leading role in Mystic Journey’s fairy-tale ride to the pinnacle of Australian racing; but a fourth, previously unheralded figure was no less delighted that ‘Betty the Jet’ had confirmed her status as Winx’s heiress apparent.
Damien Murnane had only met Betty the morning before – when, it has to be said, she took quite a shine to the 59-year-old – but he was no less invested in the winner of The All-Star Mile than her ecstatic connections, as she had the power to make him a quarter of a million dollars riches if she crossed the line first.
One of the most heart-warming aspects of the inaugural All-Star Mile was the varied stories of the group of Owner Ambassadors, who were each assigned a runner in the race.
Fortune favoured Murnane, who found out he was one of the 14 golden ticket winners on the very day he was also offered a new job as a traffic controller after, having been a lab technician in the plastics industry for the previous 20 years.
These days he works in Bunnings part-time – after all, full-time employment became an unnecessary burden the minute that $250,000 dropped into his account.
“Life’s been great, we’re obviously in a much better place financially,” said Murnane.
“I upgraded my car, which was a lovely little treat. We’ve also been doing a few things around the house, which we’d been putting off but when you win that sort of money, it tends to speed up the process a little!
“Next month we’re heading off to America for a month, we fly to Denver where we have some friends. Then we’re off to New York, Washington, Philadelphia and a few other places on the east coast.
“So we’ve got a lot to look forward to, thanks to The All-Star Mile. Voting was the best decision I’ve ever made – apart from asking my wife to marry me, of course! I’ll definitely be voting again next year, assuming I’m allowed to, and I’ll also get to the Cox Plate this year if Mystic Journey makes it. I’ve got a lot to thank her for, so I’ll be cheering her on.”