By Brad Kingsbury
RACEGOERS were astounded after locally trained galloper Rapid Thrill threw away certain victory in the Bon Hoysted Apprentices Cup by trying to bite eventual winner Oronero in the shadows of the winning post at Pakenham on Sunday.
The loss also cost the six-year-old mare a walk-up start in the $100,000 Pakenham Cup on 14 March, with the winner exempted from the ballot.
Rapid Thrill’s trainer Dianne Clover was as perplexed as any at the track, saying that her stable star had never done anything like that before.
“I thought we were going to win for sure,” she lamented.
“When she sees space at this track, she just takes off and I don’t know why she did that.
“Whether she just resented the whip or saw the other horse move out slightly. I’m not sure.”
Rapid Thrill settled midfield behind a wall of horses and apprentice jockey Jacob Rule did a good job to ease her out and find galloping room prior to the home turn.
She stormed over the top of the field, but turned her head just before the line and finished second by a head.
Stewards interviewed Ms Clover and Rule after the race, but deemed the incident out of character and took no action other than to place a warning on Rapid Thrill’s future behaviour.
Locally trained Hachiman led the field into the home straight with Giuseppe Alati’s 2009 Pakenham Cup runner, Optimal, but both faded, while the other home-town runner Very Fast, prepared by Julien Welsh, ran on strongly to finish an unlucky fourth in the 1770-metre race.
Oronero’s winning jockey Adam McCabe was upbeat about his victory after recently transferring to Kent’s stable.
“It’s a great opportunity and it was my first ride for Mick Kent since I’ve been apprenticed to him, so that was even better,” he said.
On Rapid Thrill’s antics near the post, McCabe admitted that he was taken by surprise, but it did not affect his horse.
“I heard (Rapid Thrill) coming and I was a bit surprised to see its head sideways trying to take a bite, but it turned out to be lucky for me.
“My horse is a pretty honest racehorse and it didn’t upset him at all really. He just did his job.”
Kent confirmed that Oronero would start in the Pakenham Cup afterwards, while Ms Clover said that she would almost certainly nominate Rapid Thrill for the feature race as well.
Nar Nar Goon trainer John Leek said he would most likely nominate Hachiman for the Pakenham Cup, despite the galloper’s fading fifth place after leading on Sunday.
“The race wasn’t run to suit and he was first up so there were excuses, but I was happy with his effort overall,” he said.
“He’ll be better for that run and we’ll nominate for the cup and also the other 1750-metre race on the cup program and make a decision closer to the day.”
Alati said Optimal needed to have finished among the place getters on Sunday to earn another start in the cup.
Welsh admitted that, despite his gelding’s gallant fourth placing on the weekend, the class factor was an issue with Very Fast and he would look for something a little easier than the Pakenham Cup now.
Kent prepared a double with Guildford Lad joining Oronero on the winners’ list, while fellow Cranbourne-based mentors Nikki Burke, Stephen Theodore and Greg Eurell also went home with first-place prizemoney cheques on the day.
By Brad Kingsbury