Ballarat horseman Darren Weir had the numbers for the 2014 Warrnambool Cup Carnival and today he came away with the goods winning the $200,000 feature with favourite Akzar as well as the trainer’s bonus giving him a brand new Mercedes to boot.
Selkirk seven-year-old Akzar jumped top of the odds for this afternoon’s Listed Warrnambool Cup (2350m) and, after travelling wide throughout, bolted it in over the final straight to win running away.
Jockey Brad Rawiller was aboard the in-form galloper today, returning to duties after Michelle Payne was in the saddle for their latest run when second in the Group 3 Easter Cup (2000m).
Weir had the horse spot on for Warrnambool Cup Day and the 2400m though with Akzar relishing the step back up to the mile and a half continuing their form rise since joining their new trainer at the start of the year.
On the line Akzar had at least four lengths to spare over runner-up Westsouthwest who came off a Caulfield win while the Saab Hasan-trained four-year-old Shoreham finished a close third.
Akzar also secured the $41,000 red Mercedes for Weir who won four races during the two-day carnival, a bonus put on by the club.
After the field settled post-jump it was Dan O’Sullivan’s Country Cups’ Horse of the Year Gottino going forward to lead with the likes of St Jean, Picture Editor, Fieldmaster and Mourinho also in the front pack setting the pace.
Coming around the turn for home that pace quickened as they moved up to the top of the straight, Akzar six or seven wide coming round the bend while their stable mate Shiny Buttons started the long journey from last.
It looked a battle between the likes of the Chris Waller-trained Mourinho and eventual fourth placegetter Shiny Buttons then coming home before those out wide hit the accelerator.
Once Rawiller got Akzar lined up there was no stopping them and they posted an easy kill saluting for the punters with an emphatic performance to reward a top training performance by Weir.
“It was great,” Weir told the media post-win.
“It’s a big thrill for everyone.”
Asked how he’s managed to get so much from a rising eight-year-old who looked a tiered horse when 13th to Banca Mo in last year’s Warrnambool Cup, Weir credited a change of background and the beach training sessions.
“It’s pretty simple, he just loves the beach life,” he said.
“He looked fantastic in the yard today I thought. Some might have said he looked a bit skilly but he just looked fit to me.
“He ran the trip well and the ground was obviously good for him.”
Weir was also quick to credit the riding performance of Rawiller who knew exactly where he wanted to be with the horse having walked the track earlier and warned the trainer not to panic when he saw him going wide.
“Rode him to perfection,” was Weir’s comment.
“They walked it [the track] and said, ‘Don’t worry about it, I’ll be six or seven wide going round the straight’.
“And they were happy to keep momentum going and it worked out well.”
Rawiller returned the praise back on Weir and the owners, thrilled to be a part of the big win.
“This horse has been prepared to be ready for the 2400 …last two times I think he’s been looking for that distance,” he said speaking about his two 2000m Flemington rides on the horse before the Easter Cup.
“So many good plans don’t necessarily work out…I’m just so wrapped for the connections and everyone else involved in this horse.”
As to where to next for the continually progressing Akzar, Weir suggested a trip up to Queensland for a shot at the Brisbane Winter Racing Carnival riches wouldn’t be too big a stretch.
“We might head to Brisbane with him or something like that,” Weir said.
“But we’ll just enjoy the day for now.”
The obvious target would be the $500,000 Group 1 Doomben Cup (2000m) on May 14, a race Akzar was one of 27 nominations for this week.
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2014 Warrnambool Cup Results
|1||3||AKZAR (IRE)||Darren Weir||Brad Rawiller||–||16||57kg||$3F|
|2||12||WESTSOUTHWEST (NZ)||Robert Smerdon||Jack Hill||6L||6||54kg||$14|
|3||2||SHOREHAM||Saab Hasan||Chris Symons||6.5L||12||57.5kg||$21|
|4||11||SHINY BUTTONS||Darren Weir||Daniel Stackhouse||9L||10||54kg||$8|
|5||10||VATUVEI||Peter G Moody||Ms Linda Meech||9.1L||7||54kg||$41|
|6||5||MOURINHO||Peter Gelagotis||Anthony Darmanin||12.35L||15||56kg||$31|
|7||13||HAYLAMAN (IRE)||Aaron Purcell||Ryan Maloney||13.1L||5||54kg||$51|
|8||1||BANCA MO||David & Scott Brunton||Ben Knobel||13.2L||11||59.5kg||$12|
|9||9||FIELDMASTER (NZ)||Patrick Payne||Ms Michelle Payne||14.45L||1||54kg||$21|
|10||4||MOUDRE||Ciaron Maher||Steven Arnold||14.55L||9||56.5kg||$10|
|11||8||BEL THOR||Wez Hunter||Ms Jackie Beriman (a)||15.55L||3||54kg||$26|
|12||7||GOTTINO (NZ)||Dan O’Sullivan||Dean Yendall||15.75L||14||54kg||$31|
|13||15||PICTURE EDITOR (GB)||Michael Moroney||Darren Gauci||24.75L||13||54kg||$51|
|14||6||HVASSTAN||Peter Gelagotis||Damien Oliver||31.75L||8||55.5kg||$16|
|15||16||MAGNAPAL||Terry & Karina O’Sullivan||Ms Nikita Beriman||51.75L||4||54kg||$21|
|16||17e||ST JEAN (IRE)||Aaron Purcell||Stephen Baster||58.75L||2||54kg||$8|
|–||19e||CAROUN (IRE)||Patrick F Ryan||Ms Jamie Kah (a)||–||0||–||–|
|–||20e||LUCKZAT (NZ)||Wayne Walters||–||–||0||–||–|
|–||14||SUPREMACY (NZ)||Russell Cameron||Dean Holland||–||0||–||–|