McCarthy's Magical Night
By Adam Hamilton
Only a protest denied Luke McCarthy a night of absolute perfection at Menangle’s stellar NSW Breeders Challenge meeting on Saturday.
McCarthy drove in five races for five wins, but lost the third of them on protest when first past the post on Keep Rockin in the $125,000 Group 1 NSW Breeders Challenge 3YO Fillies’ final, but relegated to second behind defending champion Pelosi.
The ironic twist there was Pelosi’s trainer Anna Woodmansey asked McCarthy to drive her filly before the series, but he had already committed to partnering Keep Rockin.
McCarthy’s romp started by winning the free-for-all on classy former Kiwi pacer and Miracle Mile placegetter Alta Orlando in a slick 1min49.8sec mile, then followed with three Group 1 wins in the other NSW Breeders Challenge pacing finals.
First came the Danny Zavitsanos-owned and Tim Butt-trained Mach Dan, who began well, sat behind the leader and zipped home along the inside to win in a 1min51.7sec mile as a $16 outsider.
Mach Dan had previously won an SA Derby and run fifth in the NSW Derby and sixth in a Victoria Derby for trainer Emma Stewart.
McCarthy then teamed with Craig Cross and Victorian horseman Mick Stanley to win both 2YO Breeders Challenge finals with brilliant pair Bar Room Banta and Soho Almasi.
“Sure it’s frustrating I couldn’t be up there and a part of it all, but we got the job done and it’s a huge thanks to Craig (Cross) and Luke (McCarthy),” Stanley said.
“I told those close to me a few months back I thought my pair were good enough to win both finals and it’s great to see them come out and do it. They’re both outstanding.”
Bar Room Banta blazed his way to the lead in a 25.9sec opening quarter, crossing his main danger Tasty Delight, and kept going in a slick 1min51.3sec mile.
Soho Almasi was surprisingly crossed by Arma Renegade in the fillies’ final, but sat behind her and quickly put the race beyond doubt when she saw racing room along the inside in the home straight to post an Australasia record 1min51.8sec mile for a 2YO filly.
“They head straight back home to me now because the Breeders Crown heats are just around the corner,” Stanley said.
Woodmansey was thrilled when Pelosi got the protest verdict for interference in the home straight over Keep Rockin in the 3YO Fillies final.
Pelosi successfully defended the Breeders Challenge crown she won last season.
“I’m so proud of her, she’s a wonderful girl and did a great job tonight,” Woodmansey said.
The star of the Breeders Challenge trotting finals was Darren Hancock’s Drop The Hammer, who won as he liked in the 4&5YO final in a 1min56.3sec mile.