Brad Stewart conjured a Jonker ambush aboard Hard Empire in the Group 3 George Moore Stakes at Doomben and plenty of punters joined him on the ride.
In a race punters pinned as a two-horse war, Hard Empire gunned down the last start track record-breaker right on the line.
Jonker was heavily backed to start a $2.05 favourite, but the Toby and Trent Edmonds-trained Hard Empire was a $6 to $4.40 firmer as well.
Stewart had been confident of matching strides with Jonker on Saturday, despite being nearly five lengths adrift in last month’s Keith Noud Quality.
“He didn’t have much luck the other day. I know the winner won easily, but I said to Toby whether we beat it or not, I would have finished right with it and as you saw today, there’s not a lot between them,” Stewart said.
The Edmonds stable inherited Hard Empire this preparation after he had won nine races in 34 starts for the Richard and Chantelle Jolly stable in South Australia.
It didn’t take long for Toby Edmonds to realise he was a good acquisition.
“The owner was quite confident. He had run fourth in a Goodwood and ran well in the Magic Millions Sprint,” he said.
“One of our riders, who has ridden for us a long time, Peter Brown said ‘this goes good.’ And then his first trial for us, was really sharp.”
Hard Empire is headed to the Magic Millions Snippets (1200m) in January, but may have one more start before then.
Jonker wasn’t able to keep going on Saturday, but it was still a tidy performance, given they stopped the clock in a 1:08.11 gallop.
“I thought he felt the ground a bit today,” jockey Jim Byrne said.
“He shifted out a bit in the straight. You know the horse can run the times and I just thought when I really asked him to accelerate to the line, he just kind of idled.
“He wasn’t stretching out like he would normally. It was a true effort though.”
Earlier, Edmonds lauded the ride of Ryan Maloney after Great Keppell continued his consistent form in the Class 6 Plate.
Great Keppell jumped from barrier eight, but Maloney managed to have him midfield on the fence, travelling sweetly behind the solid speed being set by Awesome Pluck.
So You Win lived up to his name and punters’ expectations when just arriving to win the Open Quality Handicap.
“He’s really thriving up here, which is showing in his results with two wins and a narrow defeat,” Chris Waller’s stable representative Brett Killion said.
RQ TIPPED TO MAKE BID FOR FAIRER SHAKE
Racing Victoria confirmed last week it will be seeking a higher percentage of money from the Point of Consumption tax and you can bet similar discussions will be taking place in Queensland.
RV’s Chief Financial Officer Aaron Morrison told Racing.com that rather than being worried about the rate of the POC, RV wants a bigger slice of the pie from their State Government.
“Our main focus is primarily on ensuring we get a larger share of the POC,” he said.
“Whatever the rate is, we would like to see a greater share returned to the industry.”
Victoria’s POC rate is eight per cent. The Queensland government went in at 15 per cent and revenues from the tax have been higher than originally forecast.
It has been said the state government is raking in $140 million per annum, significantly ahead of the forecast $100 million.
Racing Queensland receives a tick over $30 million for the three codes, not specifically from POC, but as a result of the industry striking in 2018 to be given a return from POC proceeds.
As the Queensland racing industry’s contribution to the state’s economic benefit grows, you would assume RQ Chairman Steve Wilson and the executive team are building a case to Minister Grace Grace and those pulling the purse strings that the industry is entitled to a bigger chunk of the spoils.
HAMBLIN GOES THE DISTANCE
Country Stampede winner Paul Hamblin has done a bit of travelling this past fortnight.
Last Sunday he was at Warrnambool for The Jericho Cup and two days earlier he was at Dalby, which followed rides at Mackay and Roma that same seven days.
Hamblin rode with success over the jumps in Victoria and more recently returned home to ride the Queensland country circuit.
He also strapped and rode trackwork on Falvelon during his illustrious career.
Weight has been Hamblin’s Achilles heel and even at 61kg on Saturday, he had to work hard.
“This is what you get rewarded for. I can do 59kg, but it kills me,” he said.
“He only had 61kg, it hurt me to do it, but not as bad as the 59kg.
“With this benchmark system, I keep hanging on. I was retired a couple of times, that’s why I went to the jumps. Down there the benchmark system came in, finally the Queenslanders hooked into it and they liked it. I kept hanging on, because it keeps creating things for me, the benchmark system.”
It wasn’t all beer and skittles for the heavyweight rider. Stewards took exception to his tactics crossing to the fence and suspended him for 13 days for careless riding. In a rough-house race, Gary Geran also copped an 11 day stretch.
Matt Dunn paid respects to the late Rick Worthington after Subterranean showed good improvement to take out the two-year-old on Saturday.
Worthington, who passed away in September aged just 60, was known as one of Australia’s finest horse breakers and pre-trainers.
“I got him off Rick Worthington. That’s a pretty good head start for a horse when you’re with him,” Dunn said.
“I knew him pretty well from when I worked with Gerald (Ryan) in Sydney. He was just a really good guy.
“And horses like that is what he produced time after time. The first time we worked (Subterranean) he was a ready-made racehorse.”
Subterranean, who is by the former Group 1 winner Rebel Dane, is not a Magic Millions horse and Dunn plans to head to Sydney over the next few weeks.