DEAN Mirfin is a man who has defied the odds many times, but last week when the Bathurst trainer landed the biggest long shot of his career it was without even saddling up a horse.
Mirfin's remarkable against the odds story came as co-owner of his mare Press Box - Tony Muollo - had a ticket drawn out for The Kosciuszko sweep.
Just 14 tickets out of the 215,000 sold were drawn at that sweep and as Muollo's was one of them, he was able to select a horse trained in the country area of New South Wales to run in the $1.3 million feature.
He chose Press Box.
"It's unbelievable, we just got very lucky. They sold 215,000 tickets and one of the tickets was drawn by the filly's owner, so we're very lucky to be there, but I think she deserves to be there, she's a good horse, so I'm looking forward to it," Mirfin said.
Not surprisingly, when Mirfin got the news his four-year-old would contest the world's richest race for country-trained horses he initially thought it was a joke.
"I bought tickets myself and realised I hadn't drawn any and thought 'Oh well'. But I got a call that night from another guy who is involved in the horse as well, Peter, and he told me Tony had draw the ticket, so yeah, it was very exciting," Mirfin said.
"I didn't believe him. He told me to sit down and grab a beer because he had something to tell me, I thought it was going to be a joke. It wasn't."
While Muollo being one of the 14 lucky ticket holders to find success at the sweep and getting to select a runner for the October 19 feature was remarkable in itself, Mirfin revealed there was another element of luck to the story.
The owner had wanted to buy more of the $5 tickets than the 30 he ended up with.
"He put $500 into one of those automatic ticket machines and wanted to buy $500 worth of tickets, but it ran out of paper after $150. The very last ticket that it spat out before it ran out of paper was the ticket that he drew," Mirfin said.
"That adds more to it, makes it more incredible. He didn't buy the tickets he wanted, but he still got the chance to put his horse in the race for that money."
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Prior to the sweep, Mirfin had tried to promote the chances of Press Box getting a start in the second edition of The Kosciuszko by winning a Highway Handicap race with her at Randwick.
She was rated a 51-1 outsider of getting selected from the sweep to contest The Kosciuszko prior to that race, but Mirfin felt if the Hinchinbrook x Kaaptive Empress mare could win, then she would be more attractive.
But when Press Box ran a 1.1 lengths third - albeit it a solid effort - Mirfin thought his The Kosciuszko dream for 2019 was over.
"We were hoping to get her into the race anyway. We took her down to Randwick a fortnight ago to show her off and hope that she was going to win that day and if she had, maybe someone else would have selected her," the trainer said.
"But she ran third, she was first up and there was a lot of improvement left in her. But we thought the fact she didn't win had probably put an end to that little dream.
"So we'll grab the opportunity now with both hands and enjoy it."
The Kosciuszko (1,200 metres) jumps at 2.30pm at Randwick on October 19.