Encipher upsets in the Eureka

By Adam Hamilton

The lone mare in the race, from a harness racing backwater and bred by a hobbyist won the world’s richest harness race at Menangle last night.

Encipher was bred at Kadina, a South Australian town just over 5000 people, and only got into the field for the $2.1mil TAB Eureka a few weeks back when another SA-owned pacer, Cobber, succumbed to injury.

She’s trained in Victoria, but very proudly the flew the SA flag last night.

Along with Linke’s role, Encipher raced in the strongly SA-based slot of Aaron Bain Racing & Summit Bloodstock.

“The TAB Eureka has united Australia and we really wanted SA to be as big a part of it as possible,” Bain said, “that’s why we went with Cobber initially, and then he went amiss, quickly snapped-up Encipher.

“Yes, she’s trained in Victoria by Emma (Stewart) and Clayton (Tonkin), but she’s SA through-and-through. She’s won three major races at Globe Derby.”

When Encipher gained a start, connections had to find a new driver because her regular partner, Kate Gath, herself a product of SA, was committed to her own horse, Miracle Mile winner Catch A Wave.

“We grabbed Luke McCarthy and why wouldn’t you, he’s the King of Menangle,” Bain said.

McCarthy drove a lovely and patience race, sitting one-out and two-back while $1.70 favourite, Queensland pacing sensation Leap To Fame, and Catch A Wave locked horns in front from the 1000m and sparks flew.

No sooner did have Leap To Fame have the better of Catch A Wave when Encipher appeared from the pack as a $34 outsider and snatch a 1.7m.

The times were blistering. A 1min51.8sec mile rate for 2400m, which took 1.1sec off Anntonia’s world record by a mare in a race 2400m or further. It was just 0.3sec outside Max Delight’s all-comers world record.

“We always believed she could do this, but we feared for so long she wouldn’t get a run,” Tonkin said, “she’s been great against the mares, but we always felt she could match it with the boys with the right run. We’ve got some great boys and home and we know how well she works with them.”

Linke was blown away by the win.

“I still can’t believe that just happened,” he said.

“I get really nervous so I walked hallway up the straight, away from the huge crowd, to watch it by myself. I was so far away I didn’t know if she won or not.

“I was just thrilled to get a run in the race and now we’ve won it. The impossible can happen.”

Leap To Fame’s trainer-driver Grant Dixon was proud of his stable star.

“He went great. You couldn’t ask any more. Even when the mare came at him, he kept finding, but she was too good on the night,” he said.

Catch A Wave ran below his best, tiring late to finish 21.5m from the winner in eight spot.

“He just wasn’t himself tonight. I’m not saying he would’ve won anyway, but he didn’t handle the retention barn anywhere near as well as he had the past two times he’d been in up here,” driver Kate Gath said.

What a run it was from the gifted Captain Ravishing to finish third at his first run in six months.

“I’m just so proud of my brother Ahmed (Taiba). If you knew the battles he’s had the lameness, etc, you’d be amazed,” owner Hass Taiba said.

Boom three-year-old The Lost Storm also ran below his best after having the one-one trail. He weakened late for seventh, 17.8m away.

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