Gai Waterhouse’s classy import Bonfire carried the hefty top weight to a brave all-the-way win in record time at Grafton Racecourse on Thursday afternoon in the Grafton Cup 2015.
The money came for the in-form Manduro six-year-old in the hours leading up to the $150,000 Listed Blanchard Haulage Grafton Cup (2350m) and Bonfire jumped the equal punters’ pick despite his 59kg top weight and wide barrier 12 of 14 draw.
The punters were spot on with Bonfire the best in the mounting yard, which transferred onto the track thanks to a super cool ride from Blake Shinn.
Last time out Bonfire, who was only third-up in the Grafton Cup with improvement expected as he heads into the spring, ran second behind today’s equal favourite Kapour in the Listed Winter Cup (2400m) at Rosehill.
The Winter Cup on June 27 was run on a Heavy (8) and the Firm (2) Grafton track conditions worked in favour of Bonfire who was able to turn the tables on the Ciaron Maher-trained Kapour, second past the post beaten a quarter length.
Finishing off the winning Grafton Cup trifecta was then the Gerald Ryan-trained fellow market mover Shoreham ($7) who was a nose further back and also given a gun run from his hoop Brenton Avdulla.
The first three over the line were also the best three ridden horses in the race, especially the winning Bonfire whose hoop Shinn kept calm and collected under pressure even when they came for his frontrunner.
From the wide gate Shinn did the early work to take Bonfire up into the lead where the stayer remained all the way to the post to win in a record 2:22.59 on the speedy track.
He pressed on up front and was allowed to roll along, a big effort with the 59kg on his back, while the likes of Mullet Man, Phrases and Kapour sat just off him.
Kapour tracked nice after settling getting cover on the outside of the Bindi Cheers-trained Phrases, Maher’s Toylsome five-year-old ridden by his Winter Cup winning hoop Kerrin McEvoy once again.
On the turn for home McEvoy popped the question to Kapour who moved up to challenge Bonfire, the two drawing clear to face off down the straight.
Fighting back under pressure Bonfire dug deep and had too much in the tank, winning in a gutsy and exciting performance to hand Waterhouse back-to-back Grafton Cup victories following her success with Queenstown (2014) last winter.
There were no hard luck stories in this year’s Grafton Cup, all the horses given their chance but unable to run down Bonfire who had the perfect ride from Shinn and the ability to kick away in the end.
“That was pretty to watch,” Waterhouse’s stable representative Dave Meijer said post-win.
“Once he crossed and was able to control the race it was very pretty to watch and it was pretty stock-standard Gai stuff.
“The plan was just to run them into the ground and it was an outstanding ride from Blake.
“He is pretty untapped and now that he has had that win he should be able to go on with it.
“He has been pretty quirky and the boss has done really well to get the best out of this horse and she has always thought that once he blows a field away the penny will drop and he will go on with it
“He is a really exciting staying prospect.”
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2015 Grafton Cup Results & Finishing Order
Grafton Race 7 – 09/07/2015
|1||1||BONFIRE (GB)||Gai Waterhouse||Blake Shinn||–||12||59kg||$5EF|
|2||4||KAPOUR (IRE)||Ciaron Maher||Kerrin McEvoy||0.3L||6||56kg||$5EF|
|3||3||SHOREHAM||Gerald Ryan||Brenton Avdulla||0.4L||4||56.5kg||$7|
|4||7||REIGNING||Chris Waller||Glyn Schofield||1.3L||1||54.5kg||$6|
|5||11||DREAM FOLK||Gregory Hickman||Ms Winona Costin (a)||1.9L||5||54kg||$15|
|6||5||DANCHAI (GB)||Chris Waller||Hugh Bowman||2L||2||55.5kg||$7|
|7||6||DARCI BE GOOD (NZ)||Andrew Williamson||Brad Pengelly||2.1L||10||55.5kg||$21|
|8||13||ARCHEAN (USA)||David Vandyke||Blake Spriggs||2.9L||9||54kg||$21|
|9||9||NOISY OCEAN||Bryan Guy||Tommy Berry||3.3L||13||54kg||$31|
|10||10||PHRASES||Bindi Cheers||Andrew Gibbons||3.5L||3||54kg||$51|
|11||15||KINGSTON TIME||Paul Grills||Ms Jodi Worley (a)||3.7L||7||54kg||$101|
|12||2||BANCA MO||Bevan Laming||Timothy Bell||3.8L||14||58.5kg||$12|
|13||14||MULLET MAN||Ruth Cooper||Matthew Paget||6.5L||11||54kg||$61|
|14||16||RAPIDUS (NZ)||Bindi Cheers||Raymond Spokes||8.5L||8||54kg||$101|
|–||8||GOSH (IRE)||Chris Waller||Glyn Schofield||–||0||–||–|
|–||12||MAURUS (GB)||David Vandyke||Jason Collett||–||0||–||–|