Leading Sydney trainer Chris Waller not only won his first Sydney Cup this autumn but the passionate horseman scored the quinella with outsider Grand Marshal beating home better fancied stablemate Who Shot Thebarman in a thrilling finish to the two mile Randwick classic.
Eleven quality stayers lined up in this year’s edition of the $1.6 million Group 1 Schweppes Sydney Cup (3200m), the 150th edition of the great autumn handicap.
Odds-on favourite at Ladbrokes.com.au was John O’Shea’s last start The BMW winning import Hartnell who jockey Tommy Berry took to the front soon after the field settled into their positions.
Rolling along in the lead the Godolphin-owned stayer, after his second win at the distance, wasn’t challenged for the front position and travelled very comfortably, in a nice rhythm.
Hartnell stayed up front ahead of Don Doremo with Au Revoir third and Big Memory getting every chance on the rails in fourth, the inside proving all afternoon as the place to be on the rain-affected track.
The field held their positions throughout including the Melbourne Cup winner Protectionist in sixth and Waller’s Melbourne Cup third placegetter Who Shot Thebarman getting a gun trail up behind the German import in seventh.
As the field moved down the side the pace quickened and they started the sprint towards the home turn, the Hong Kong horse Dominant getting going out deep and Hartnell bravely trying to go all-the-way.
It was six-year-old former Auckland Cup winner over the 3200m Who Shot Thebarman who came flying up on the rails to race away however.
He was quickly challenged by Waller’s imported Dansili gelding Grand Marshall who was the only horse coming off the most successful Sydney Cup lead-up, the Group 2 Chairman’s Handicap (2600m) run on a similarly Heavy track only on Monday.
In a dramatic finish from the Waller stablemates, Grand Marshall and veteran hoop Jim Cassidy lunged late and got to the line just a half-head in front of Who Shot Thebarman in a photo finish predicted earlier in the week by Races.com.au.
“To see them storm home down the outside was pretty good,” a typically emotional Waller said.
“It’s a great feeling when you come for a Sydney Cup with the two stablemates fighting it out.”
Cassidy meanwhile won his first Sydney Cup way back in 1986 aboard Marooned and then won again 20 years later on County Tyrone (2006).
Nearly a decade on again he made it a trio of wins in the great staying showdown on upset $41 shot Grand Marshall, the longest priced Sydney Cup winner since Just A Dancer did it at a similar 40/1 price back in 1991.
“A great thrill,” Cassidy said after the win.
“It’s nice to have Chris (Waller) back on board.
“Very delighted. You’ve just got to hang around in this game.
“I went to Plan B (today) and went back.
“I was very confident he (Grand Marshall) could run the trip. A couple of gear changes and a jockey change did the trick!”
Runner-up Who Shot Thebarman was an $8.50 chance while third past the post Like A Carousel was at $151 for the win.
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2015 Sydney Cup Results & Finishing Order
Randwick Race 8 – 11/04/2015
|1||11||GRAND MARSHAL (GB)||Chris Waller||Jim Cassidy||–||4||52kg||$41|
|2||4||WHO SHOT THEBARMAN (NZ)||Chris Waller||Blake Shinn||0.1L||10||54.5kg||$8.50|
|3||9||LIKE A CAROUSEL||Ken Keys||Chad Schofield||6.1L||6||52kg||$151|
|4||6||HARTNELL (GB)||John O’Shea||Tommy Berry||6.8L||7||52kg||$1.65F|
|5||7||AKZAR (IRE)||Darren Weir||Brenton Avdulla||7.4L||11||52kg (cd 52.5kg)||$21|
|6||2||DOMINANT (IRE)||John Moore||Joao Moreira||8.3L||5||56.5kg||$21|
|7||1||PROTECTIONIST (GER)||Kris Lees||Craig Williams||15.9L||2||58kg||$5|
|8||8||BIG MEMORY (FR)||Tony McEvoy||Glen Boss||20.7L||1||52kg||$18|
|9||5||AU REVOIR (IRE)||Peter G Moody||Kerrin McEvoy||20.9L||9||54kg||$31|
|10||10||RENEW (IRE)||Archie Alexander||Tim Clark||25.5L||3||52kg (cd 52.5kg)||$91|
|11||12||DON DOREMO (NZ)||Robbie Laing||Sam Clipperton||33.1L||8||52kg||$31|
|–||3||RED CADEAUX (GB)||Ed Dunlop||Hugh Bowman||–||0||–||–|