Protest makes history at ID final
By Adam Hamilton
It was the Inter Dominion final that had it all.
Boncel Benjamin’s upset win on protest over Expensive Ego created history as the first successful protest to change the result of an Inter Dominion final in the history of the race.
Driver Josh Gallagher, who turned 21 on November 6, became the second-youngest driver to win an Inter Dominion final. Second only to Chris Lewis, who was 20, when he won on Carclew in Adelaide in 1976.
And the rise and rise of young trainer Jason Grimson reached epic levels when he transformed Boncel Benjamin in just three months in his stable.
The rising seven-year-old ran seventh in a “claiming” race at Melton back on March 27.
“They rang me and asked if I’d take him because he’s got so much gate speed and they thought he’d be suited to the mile racing here,” Grimson recalled. “He’s just kept getting better and better.
“Tonight surprised me. To be able to burn off the gate like that and still run home in the times he did at the end of 3009m was amazing.”
Boncel Benjamin led, took a trail on Expensive Ego and went for a run up the inside halfway down the home straight before being blocked and Gallagher had to switch and go to the outside.
The stewards were satisfied there was a run there for Gallagher and Expensive Ego’s driver, David Moran, had taken his running. They upheld the protest after a 30-minute hearing.
“I was 100 per cent going to protest. The run was there,” Gallagher said.
Grimson added: “As soon as I saw the replay, we had to protest. It was clear he’d taken our run.”
Gallagher, who works for Menangle trainers Kerry Anne and Robbie Morris, only learned he had the drive on Boncel Benjamin late Monday.
“It was 4pm when Jason rang me and told me. Then he drew well a few hours later and I thought I was actually a chance in it,” he said.
“I’m so appreciative of getting the drive because I jumped off him to drive Burnham Boy through the heats, but Jason and the owners gave me another chance when he made the final.”
Moran argued in the stewards’ room there was not a clear run on the inside for Boncel Benjamin, but the stewards deemed otherwise.
It denied him a fairytale pick-up drive win on Australia’s most exciting pacer.
Expensive Ego ran home in an unbelievable 52.8sec last half and 25.9sec closing quarter, but Boncel Benjamin was still able to close on him.
Big gun King Of Swing settled near last, made his move around to sit parked in the middle stages, but never loomed as a winning hope. He just battled into fifth spot.
“They just went too slow early and ran home too quickly. It was impossible for him,” driver Luke McCarthy said.
McCarthy and his wife, Belinda, had to be content with second and third with grand old former Kiwi pacer Alta Orlando running another terrific race for third.
Victoria Cup winner Max Delight took all the inside runs to get through late and finish fourth for Chris Alford and David Aiken.
Classy former Kiwi pacer Triple Eight settled near last, tried to make a big three-wide run around the field, but couldn’t sustain the run and tired to finish last.