In an incredible Epsom Handicap 2016 result that will go down in the history books, the Godolphin-raced Hauraki came from last to first with incredible late speed to take out the mile classic by a nose.
Trainer John O’Shea won the race for the first time a decade ago with Racing To Win (2006) and was back 10 years later for the Godolphin stable with the ultra-consistent Reset gelding Hauraki.
A 13-starter field lined up in the $1 million Group 1 Epsom Handicap (1600m) at Royal Randwick this Sydney Spring Racing Carnival, Hauraki coming into the race on the back of a brave third to Australia’s best racehorse Winx in the Group 1 George Main Stakes at the same track / distance.
Winx won last year’s Epsom Handicap and Hauraki franked that form with the shock late victory this season.
After winning her ninth Flight Stakes trophy the run before with Global Glamour, Gai Waterhouse looked like she would score her eighth Epsom Handicap when the Frenchman Johan Victoire went straight to the front on Fabrizio.
The High Chaparral five-year-old, a winner of five of his eight starts before the big step up in grade for the Epsom, raced out to a massive lead from the Randwick Guineas winner Le Romain and the Chris Waller-trained Mackintosh who was quickly into stride for third.
James McDonald meanwhile took Hauraki right to the back of the pack and let the one-time favourite settle behind his 12 rivals.
Fabrizio set a blistering pace and was up to eight lengths ahead of Sons Of John by midway through the race, opening up a massive gap while the favourite Palentino was racing off the track mid-field a touch keen with the blinkers on.
Around the bend and onto the straight Fabrizio was still in front putting on a display as the likes of Jason Attard’s Bill Ritchie winner Sons Of John, Waller’s Theo Marks champ Mackintosh and the Lindsay Park-trained Tramway placegetter Dibayani started to close the gap.
Le Romain was also giving chase, but was run down and forced out of the money.
In the final 100m Hauraki ($7), quick as a flash, stormed down the outside and raced right over the top of them bobbing at the right time to beat Dibayani ($26) by a nose with Mackintosh ($9.50) finishing off the Epsom Handicap trifecta in third.
The Epsom Handicap winner came from nowhere, but once in the clear he and McDonald motored home and made up all the ground in an incredible performance.
“Nothing went really right early,” McDonald said post-win.
“But to come away with a win in the Epsom, John’s timed his preparation to perfection.
“Between him [O’Shea] and the team, all the credit to them.”
O’Shea was left speechless with the win, having conceded a loss until the final seconds.
“We didn’t even have time to cheer he come that quick,” he said.
“I can’t believe it. I’ll take it, but I can’t believe it.
“It’s just been a great team effort to come here today and get one of those James McDonald specials.
Winx backed up from her Epsom success last year to make history with a Moonee Valley win in the $3 million Group 1 Cox Plate (2040m).
Hauraki could be set for the same interstate spring double holding an entry for Australasia’s weight-for-age championship in Melbourne on October 22.
2016 Epsom Handicap Results & Finishing Order
Randwick Race 7 – 01/10/2016
|1||2||HAURAKI||John O’Shea||James McDonald||–||10||56kg||$6.50|
|2||6||DIBAYANI (IRE)||David & B Hayes & T Dabernig||Damian Lane||0.1L||11||54kg||$26|
|3||8||MACKINTOSH (NZ)||Chris Waller||Tommy Berry||0.3L||2||52kg||$9.50|
|4||4||HAPPY CLAPPER||Patrick Webster||Brenton Avdulla||0.6L||1||55kg||$9|
|5||3||LE ROMAIN||Kris Lees||Hugh Bowman||1.2L||3||55.5kg||$10|
|6||9||MCCREERY (GB)||Chris Waller||Kerrin McEvoy||1.6L||4||51.5kg||$6.50|
|7||10||HEAVENS ABOVE||Tim Martin||Corey Brown||1.7L||8||51kg||$17|
|8||12||TORGERSEN (NZ)||Chris Waller||Ms Kathy O’Hara||2.4L||5||50kg||$31|
|9||11||VANBRUGH||Chris Waller||Craig Newitt||2.7L||7||51kg||$19|
|10||13||FABRIZIO||Gai Waterhouse & Adrian Bott||Johan Victoire||3.5L||6||50kg||$6EF|
|11||5||MIGHTY LUCKY||Fred Cowell||Chris O’Brien||6.6L||12||54.5kg||$51|
|12||7||SONS OF JOHN||Jason Attard||Glen Boss||6.8L||13||53kg||$17|
|13||1||PALENTINO||Darren Weir||Mark Zahra||7.7L||9||57kg||$6EF|