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By Graham Potter | Sunday, June 5, 2022

If ever you wanted to see evidence of the love between a strapper and a horse, you didn’t have to look any further than that portrayed by Emma Lehmann and Gypsy Goddess, both before and after the Queensland Oaks at Eagle Farm on Saturday.

In the parade ring prior to the race, there was a sereneness about the comfortable, relaxed walking stride of Gypsy Goddess, totally at one with her handler who gazed at her adoringly throughout the pre-race parade, a gaze underlined with a tranquil smile, all of which spoke of the pure, shared pleasure of the moment between horse and strapper.

This moment had nothing to do with money … or winning.

It seemed like the two of them could have been anywhere at all and the view to anybody watching them would have the same.

The name of the game is horseracing though, so winning, or running well, is a bonus and Gypsy Goddess topped up that bonus to the rim with her spectacular run in the Oaks, where she took off a long way out and sustained a race winning effort which carried her to a landmark, first Group 1 victory.

Over those last 200m, the thrill must have been enormous for Lehmann and the smile would have been bigger.

As Gypsy Goddess passed the winning post, Lehmann’s celebration might have remained calm and measured in appearance, but it could not hide the clear shift in body language from excitement to an obvious sheer sense of pride at what her good friend Gypsy Goddess had achieved in 136.28 seconds of race action in which she had left half of her rivals trailing her home by more than a nineteen-length margin.

As expected, after the no small matter of taking care of some Group 1 business had been completed, the reunion between horse and strapper cemented the impression of friendship and mutual respect that was there before.

While the congratulations and the hugs and kisses were being shared by Gypsy Goddess’s winning connections, Lehmann’s attention remained fully focussed on Gypsy Goddess as she went out to meet the Queensland Oaks winner and bring her back to the rapturous applause at the winners’ enclosure … where Lehmann’s raised arm, with arm pointed to the sky, gave just a small hint of the emotion she must have been feeling internally.

Then it was on to the taking of post-race photographs in which, once again, Lehmann paid most attention to Gypsy Goddess, looking more at the horse than the cameras.

And finally, when the connections moved to the podium for the trophy presentation, it was time for Lehmann and Gypsy Goddess to depart the scene and they walked back in-between the grandstands, through the parade ring to once again reach the tie-up stalls where the whole race-day journey had begun for them.

They left just as they had entered the scene … together, in sync … as one.

There was just one more parting smile with a finger in the air affirming the fact that Gypsy Goddess was clearly number one in Lehmann’s book.

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Photos: Graham Potter
Photos: Graham Potter
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