Catch A Wave wins big out west

By Adam Hamilton

Not many pacers win a $1 million race, but now Victorian superstar Catch A Wave has won two.

Less than 14 months after he won the $1mil Miracle Mile, the Andy Gath-trained five-year-old went right to the other side of Australia to win last night's $1.25mil Group 1 Nullarbor at Gloucester Park.

A war of words erupted before the race and drama continued into the 2536m race itself with daring tactics, midrace moves, jostling and some real hard luck stories.

Driver Kate Gath was moved to declare it her most satisfying win and it filled one of very few voids in Andy Gath's training career, a Group 1 win in WA to give him Group 1 success in all six Australian racing states and NZ.

"I felt it was the biggest challenge of my career to come over here where the racing is so different and drive so aggressively," Gath said. "You only had to see the race to see what I mean, it had it all, but thankfully it played out perfectly for us."

While the connections of Spirit Of St Louis and Hot And Treacherous delivered on their promise of fireworks, Gath sat back grinning and waiting to swoop late.

Catch A Wave made his move at the bell and survived a jostle with Never Ending and his driver Gary Hall Jr before going on to win by three metres in a slick 1min55.8sec mile rate for the long 2536m trip.

It was the second running of the Nullarbor and the second victory by an interstate raider, following Betterzippit last year.

"This is right up there for so many reason," Andy Gath said. "To share it with Pauline (Matthews) and her family is so special and even Rob Tomlinson and his crew, who's slot we raced in (Regency Foods Australia) were fantastic. They promoted the horse and the race so well.

"It's no secret it wasn't an easy decision for us to bring the horse across here. I certainly had my reservations. You know I wanted to go to the Cambridge race, but there weren't any slots left, so that's when Rob (Tomlinson) came into play.

"It's also a really satisfying win because it hasn't been the best 12 months with the horse since he won the Miracle Mile.

"I can understand people saying he's been disappointing. There's been a few reasons, but we've also changed a few things and started working him harder. He also thrives on racing, too.

"In many ways this win is more important for his career than the Miracle Mile because it came at a time when he had his doubters."

It was Catch A Wave's 21st win from just 37 starts and he's now zoomed to $A2,043,088 in prize money.

Star local stayer Minstrel ran a fantastic second after making a midrace move to sit parked outside the leader, while other locals Swingband and Lavra Joe ran home well for third and fourth.

Spirit Of St Louis punctured badly after leading to finish tailed-off last and is now likely to head to the US to continue his career without racing again Down Under.

Hot And Treacherous did a mighty job after burning early, sitting parked and being shoved three-wide by Gary Hall Jr on Never Ending at the bell.

Never Ending was the hard luck story. He was seemingly cruising when Hall Jr tried for a run inside Catch A Wave, but contacted a wheel and broke.

Catch A Wave and most of his key Nullarbor rivals will do battle again next Friday night in the $300,000 Group 1 Fremantle Cup at Gloucester Park.

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