THE prospect of winning a first Group One race is emotional enough, but Coleambally reinsman Blake Jones will be looking to honour a mate when Forever Yin squares off in Thursday's Vicbred Super Series Three Year Old Colts and Geldings final at Melton.
The four-year-old gelding was named in honour of former Marrar footballer Graeme Reid, a friend of Jones who took his own life in late 2016.
Jones struck up a relationship with Reid, a larrikin whose catchcry was "Yin" when asked if he was keen for a night out as a rival Coleambally player.
He has also helped raise thousands of dollars for Good Talk, a charity established in Reid's honour which helps raise awareness for bipolar disorder and suicide prevention.
Jones and trainer Ellen Bartley, his long-time partner, are both searching for their first Group One win on Thursday, which would be an ideal way to finish a tough year.
"Definitely (it would be emotional to win), that's for sure," Jones said.
"He's got a bit of a following, a fair few of the Marrar boys and the Wagga guys follow him around. He gives everyone a kick when he races, that's for sure.
"I met him (Reid) through footy and got to know him pretty well. It was great to name this fella (Forever Yin) after him.
"He's done a good job for us too, which makes it even better.
"It (winning a Group One) is what you get out of bed every morning for, it's the pinnacle. It's not one of the major races like the grand circuit ones, but any group one is good.
"Ellen has trained a group three, I've driven a group three and a group two, they're pretty hard to get."
Jones will be hoping for more luck with Forever Yin after he threw away all hope of victory by galloping at the start of last year's two-year-old final.
After drawing barrier seven Jones said they will need some luck in the $130,000 finale, with Forever Yin currently rated a $14 chance.
"It's not the best, I thought he was right in the mix before the barrier draw came out which dented my confidence a bit. But we're still there and you never know what can happen," Jones said.
"It would have been ideal to be in two or nine or something like that and you're already in the running line, but you're in no man's land out wide and you have to hope something opens up and you can slot in. From out there we could end up at the back end of the field again, I think.
"If you drew near two or three he could come out good enough to get into a spot, but he's not quick enough to get in from out there really.
"He galloped at the start last year unfortunately, and fingers crossed we don't go doing that.
"He's not 100 per cent out of the gate, but touch wood he's never looked like doing anything wrong at the start this time in."
The locally-owned Maajida is also currently the $2.20 equal favourite for the three-year-old fillies final.
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