Code Hopper: Charles Secures Thrilling WA Oaks

LAYING claim to noteworthy achievements in the world of racing is nothing new to 33-year old Western Australian trainer Kody Charles.

Adam Dobbin

3 June 2020

LAYING claim to noteworthy achievements in the world of racing is nothing new to 33-year old Western Australian trainer Kody Charles.

And at Cannington on Saturday night the always affable Charles continued that theme by securing the Group 2 Western Australian Oaks (520m) with the talented Cobargo in last stride fashion.

“I reckon I’ve trained over 800 winners in the greyhounds but Cobargo was my first ever group race finalist so to win it was unreal,” beamed Charles.

“I wasn’t expecting too much to be honest. She was the fastest qualifier but that didn’t mean a great deal with some really good bitches in the race. She had box six and she was big odds but when I saw her get into third down the back I started to think she was a chance. I thought she got there on the line but I wasn’t sure … until I saw the number go up.”

In a driving finish to the group 2 showpiece, Cobargo landed the $32,000 winner’s purse in the last hop with a thunderous charge, collaring race favourite Mermaid Monelli for leading WA trainer Dave Hobby.

And it was a victory that sparked a flood of emotions for Charles, who at just 33 years of age lays claim to having trained winners in each of the three racing codes.

“I’ve had a few firsts along the way now,” Charles said.

“At Northam back in 2007 at a dual code meeting I drove a winner at the harness meeting and trained a winner at the greyhound meeting … I’d say that’s a first as well.

“I’m a fourth generation harness racing participant which is a big part of what I do through my business KTC Bloodstock. I held a trainers’ license in the thoroughbreds a few years ago as well but I’ve handed that back now.”

Responsible for driving home upwards of 80 winners in harness racing, and leading in over 800 winners in greyhounds, Charles’ exploits in thoroughbred racing aren’t by any means as lofty, but carry an interesting backstory regardless.

“Back in 2015 I owned a small share in a horse called Slash And Burn with Luke Oliver in Victoria,” Charles recalled.

“The syndicate decided to sell the horse so I threw in what I thought was a silly offer for him which I never thought would be accepted – but it was.

“So there I was with the horse thinking to myself ‘shoot I better get a (trainers) licence’!”

While Charles’ time preparing Slash And Burn was relatively short lived, it was an exercise that more than paid dividends, the Raheeb gelding landing a big odds plunge at Northam in December 2015.

“We backed him from 50/1 into about 16/1 that day,” Charles reflected.

“He was going well and before the race I told his jockey Sarah Bonner to ride him very quiet and pull him out at the 300m mark. She followed the instructions perfectly and we had a good win on him. In the end he had six or seven starts for me but it just got too much to manage.

“To be able to say you’ve trained a winner in all three codes is something I’m quite proud of.”

With harness racing instilled into Charles from a young age through the deeds of grandfather Tom Charles and father Kevin, Kody’s entry into greyhound racing was vastly different.

“When I was in year five at school a mate of mine was helping breeder Phil Evans with the dogs and that’s where I got introduced to the sport,” Charles recalled.

“David Simonette got me in contact with Mike Bate who was close with Keith Harding and things just went from there. If I know anything now that’s where I learnt it.”

Boasting 63 acres at his Hopeland property, Charles’ parents Kevin and Annette preside over 400 acres just two minutes up the road, the two establishments housing an array of top standardbred and greyhound stock.

“I’ve got the pups here at my place and the race dogs and horses are up the road where the parents live,” Charles said.

“A few years ago I was looking for some pups to buy and saw some Burn One Down x Abby Normal pups for sale. I was a big fan of Burn One Down and Abby Normal was by Kc And All which I was keen on as well. I bought a dog from the litter and ended up getting a bitch as well on a rearing deal. The dog ended up not being much good and the bitch is Cobargo.

“I’m right back into breeding now. I’ve got four litters coming through and since Saturday night I’ve had a few calls to take dogs from interstate which always helps; the aim is to get the better class of dogs.”

Proving he’s a Jack of all trades, through his KTC Bloodstock operation, Charles also oversees the stud business of top international sires Foreclosure and Control The Moment.

“I’m effectively their studmaster here in Australia,” Charles said.

“The bloodstock business is going well, we’ve produced seven individual group 1 winners in the trots. The breeding season for the standardbreds is August to December and then halfway through January the foals start getting prepared for the sales.”

With a host of superbly greyhound pups and standardbred foals on their sprawling Hopelands property, Charles is perfectly positioned for a sustained run of success in both codes.