The thrill of the chase. From Lang Park to the track, why we love a swooper.

There’s nothing like a big finish. A barnstorming end. Victory in the last seconds. Winning in the final bound.

A Warne wicket on the last ball. Steve Waugh smacking a boundary at day’s end to reach his ton and put the Poms in their place.

How many origins have we seen go down to the wire? Games won and lost in a final set of six. Coyne’s miracle try in ’94. Billy the Kid stealing it from Ricky Stuart’s mob in Game One this year.

Premiership deciders too. What about Andrew Johns in the ’97 grand final? I know, he’s a Blue, but credit where credit’s due.

Last throw of the dice, and he darts down a crowded blind side. No-one else would have done that. Joey finds Darren Albert, and with six seconds left, the Knights win their first premiership. Now that’s a finish.

Roar fans were crying into their plastic beers in this year’s A-League decider. Red hot favourites, and they were on the way out. Big time.

Two goals down in extra time, the Orange army members were heading for the exits. But as George Michael so elegantly put it – ‘ya gotta have faith’.

Not only did they level the score with seconds left, the Brisbane boys won the penalty shoot out. It doesn’t get much closer than that.

In racing, it’s a tight finish that gets the blood pumping. Especially when a crowd favourite is flashing home. We generally spot it late, back in the field. And then hope like hell that it’s ours.

There are some famous ones. Like the Golden Slipper in 2000. You don’t win Slippers by missing the start. Belle du Jour didn’t just miss the kick. She nibbled on carrots and applied lipstick before leaving the gates. Singo owned her. Naughty words were uttered.

Last into the straight, the filly couldn’t win. No way. Then Lenny Beasley started weaving a path. In and out, back and forward. Whoosh. She got there in the last stride.

It happened last year too. Not quite the Slipper. On the beautiful big track at Caloundra. The Sunshine Coast Turf club’s biggest Saturday of the year. The Glasshouse Handicap.

It was a ride I’ll never forget. Because the bloke who performed the miracle is no longer with us.

Woorim was way back. Last, cluttered up behind the big field. But then Stathi Katsidis got to work.

He waited. And waited. Then he weaved. We held our breath. In a flash, he had Woorim back on the inside, charging. Horse and jockey hadn’t missed a beat. What a ride. You won’t see many better.

In an age of great jockeys, only a handful could have done what Stathi did that day. As I’ve said on these pages before, we’re all so much poorer for his passing.

Rob Heathcote’s gelding returns to Caloundra tomorrow. And he has plenty against him to win again. A whopping five and a half extra kilos. He’ll get way back. And if it’s wet, forget it.

But all is not lost. The bloke up top, Damian Browne, is one of the few who could match Stathi as his best. Trust me, he’s a genius. No longer under the radar. For a long while the boys and I were getting over the odds every time he went around.

There are other threats. The McLachlan family has Phelan Ready primed. The local hope. They’d love to do it for dad, the late Big Bruce.

On his day, the other Heathcote horse, Gundy Son, can do anything. And Gerald Ryan is supremely confident with his last start Ipswich winner Adnocon.

Looking for a long shot? Keep an eye on Viking Legend. The bloke riding him, Chris O’Brien, is one of the most under-rated hoops in the game. He’s making the trip from Gosford, and he’s not coming for the pies. Trust me, this bloke’s as good as any of them.

As long as the rain stays away, I’ll be sticking with Woorim. Very unlucky in the Stradbroke. If you join me, be brave. Hold your nerve. If he gets up, it will be late. Maybe in the last stride. Like Warney, and Coyney, and Joey.

Remember, there’s nothing like a close finish. Unless we get beat. That falls into the category of “oh so bloody close”. You won’t be surprised to know I have plenty of those tales. Sad, painful, unfair stories. For another day.

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