History for the King at Menangle
by Adam Hamilton
It was the perfect way to go out. King Of Swing’s historic moment was also his farewell to racing.
There was a lot of pre-race speculation King Of Swing’s connections would retire him straight after last night’s $1 million Miracle Mile, especially if he won.
And driver Luke McCarthy confirmed it in the moments after King Of Swing became the first pacer to win three Miracle Miles.
“Yes, that’s it,” he said. “I’ve got no doubt he could’ve raced-on, I think he’s in career-best form right now, but I can see where the owners are coming from. They want him to go out on top,” he said.
Fittingly, King Of Swing’s final campaign will be remembered as his greatest on all levels.
Not only did he win all four starts this year, but he became the first pacer to win two Hunter Cups and two Miracle Miles.
Then he added last night’s third Miracle Mile.
Those four starts banked him $900,300 and took his career earnings to a thumping $3,390,546. That makes him the fifth highest-earning Australasian pacer of all time.
Of course, King Of Swing started his career with Ray Green in NZ and won his first Group for him in the Breeders Crown 2YO final at Melton.
He was then sold to a group of Gary Hall Sr’s owners and moved to WA where he won the Group 1 WA Derby.
But when King Of Swing’s form dipped, it was Hall Sr’s suggestion to send him to Luke and Belinda McCarthy which sparked his rise to greatness.
In 33 starts for Team McCarthy, King Of Swing posted 24 wins, four seconds, three thirds and that only unplaced run, a fifth in last December’s Inter Dominion final.
He won 10 Group 1 races in their care.
King Of Swing was also unbeaten in 12 starts over a mile at Menangle, breaking 1min50sec a staggering 11 times.
Just as he did in his Miracle Mile qualifier, King Of Swing really had to earn the win last night.
In many ways those final two wins were the ultimate and important icing on the cake of his stellar career.
Outsider Mach Dan blasted out and crossed King Of Swing at the start in a slick 25.9sec opening quarter, but Luke McCarthy quickly moved off the inside, pushed between runners and mustered again quickly enough to “re-take” before Bondi Lockdown could get around him.
He spent plenty of early petrol and they went a 54.6sec first half.
“He felt great coming to the turn and gave a great kick when I asked him, but I knew it would be a long way home after that early burn,” McCarthy said. “But he’s so strong and brave this horse and he just kept giving.
“I didn’t get time to savor the win though because Jack (Callaghan, on Spirit Of St Louis) got pretty close at the finish.”
King Of Swing lasted to win by 1.2m over Spirit Of St Louis in a 1min49.2sec mile rate.
Given Sydney’s big wet and the repair works on the Menangle track, the time was fantastic.
Spirit Of St Louis’ fantastic run from midfield in the running line to get so close in a 26.2sec final quarter showed how far he’s come this campaign.
And Chariots Of Fire winner Better Eclipse, helped by a superb Greg Sugars drive, smashed the clock late to come from a clear last and finish third.
Majestic Cruiser was unlucky not to finish closer with driver Cam Hart locking wheels at a crucial stage and getting going late again along the inside to finish fourth, just 6.2m from the winner.
The early effort and long campaign of Bondi Lockdown took its toll and he weakened noticeably late to finish last.
Last year’s runner-up Expensive Ego was again well below his best. After landing the one-one trail, he just battled away late to finish seventh.