14 April, 2021
Closest finish in a decade
THE joys and despairs in horse racing often come down to a matter of inches and the 1000m Anderson & Harris Bookmaking Open Plate at Longreach on Saturday, March 20 arguably produced the closest finish in a decade on the track.
After a lengthy photo finish, deliberation judges found a margin of a short half head by a short half head by a half head between the first three placegetters with less than three-quarters of a length covering the first six home.
This was the race that racegoers had waited for and it did not disappoint.
Country champion Fab’s Cowboy was trying to add Longreach to the long list of tracks won at in its previous 42 wins but was faced with open class opposition from Zukas and Drayman which had both run in the Country Stampede Final at Doomben in December as well as the other runners which totalled 52 wins between them.
The speed was on from the outset with Wicked Wiki and Drayman sharing the lead and Zukas parked behind them with a gap back to Boingo, Chapelco, and Fab’s Cowboy.
Turning for home Zukas made a line of three and Boingo and Chapelco were coming with runs whilst Fab’s Cowboy was still five lengths away and finding room in the centre of the track. With less than 100m to go Zukas gained a slender lead and appeared to be holding the others at bay when suddenly Fab’s Cowboy started to sprout wings down the outside but was still two lengths off the leaders.
In the drive to the line, Zukas in the centre, was able to hang on to deny Fab’s Cowboy the win with Chapelco producing an eye-catching run for third and Boingo, Drayman, and Wicked Wiki all within three-quarters of a length of the winner.
The old saying of “you could throw a blanket over them” aptly described the finish.
It was a clever ride by jockey Paul Randall to have Zukas travelling sweetly throughout and have enough in reserve in the drive to the line.
Central West racing is in for a bumper of a year for the sprinters if this race is any indication.
Riding honours for the day belonged to apprentice Alisha Ross who scored a race-to-race double on Old Town Road for Raymond Frazer and Juxtaposed for Todd Austin.
Alisha is now a joint leader on 16 points with Emma Bell in the Central West Jockey Premiership.
Old Town Road was a convincing winner of the 1000m Hygain Horse Feed Maiden Plate leading throughout to defeat Disco Lights by four lengths with Crazy Suspect third.
In the 1000m Watts Catering Ratings Band 0-60 Handicap Ross produced the perfectly timed run on Juxtaposed to collar leader Music Award and win by a widening margin with Olifants in third place.
The Tycoon Ruler gelding was having its first run for the Austin stable and was produced ready to win at its first start since August.
Get In The Groove trained and ridden by David Rewald proved too strong in the 1200m Barkers Newsagency Class B Handicap racing away to win by three lengths over stablemate Nicksy Boy with Unsure in third.
This was the second win in three starts at Longreach for the Mulaazem mare and the time of 1.09.9 suggests more wins are in store.
The same could be said for the Rodney Little who had trained Jarhead which was resuming from a spell in the 1200 metres Thurecht Bros Saddlery Class 4 Handicap and under a confident ride by Emma Bell proved too strong for Sidetrip and early leader Zorro Macho.
The Warhead gelding last campaign proved competitive in open company races and based on this win will soon go through the grades to open company.
Racing headed to Winton on the Saturday before the Easter Saturday meeting at Barcaldine and Easter Monday meeting at Augathella.