The Ron Quinton-trained Royal Celebration is one...
The Darren Weir-trained proven Group 1 winner Lucky Hussler looked back in form ahead of his Magic Millions bid in January holding off the fit favourite Illustrious Lad to win the Kevin Heffernan Stakes 2016 at Ladbrokes Park.
A $100,000 yearling buy from the Magic Millions sales back in 2011, the now seven-year-old son of Husson sits just $10,000 shy of $2 million in career earnings after posting a narrow win in Saturday’s $150,000 Group 3 Kevin Heffernan Stakes (1300m) on Zipping Classic Day.
It had been a long time between drinks for the multiple elite level champion, but with the blinkers off he raced right up to potential improving on his last start ninth when beating just one horse home in the Group 1 Manikato Stakes (1200m) on October 21.
Jockey Brad Rawiller admitted he had been disappointed with the horse’s efforts in that Moonee Valley feature, but down in class at weight-for-age in the Kevin Heffernan Stakes Lucky Hussler was back to winning form.
The well-backed favourite Illustrious Lad came off a Group 2 win down the Flemington straight on Derby Day a fortnight back and took some beating.
He pressed on from out deep, working his way from the outside alley to sit outside the leader Faatinah in second.
Lucky Hussler meanwhile was back second last, saving himself for what turned out to be a genuine two-horse battle in the closing stages.
Faatinah was first into the straight from Illustrious Lad, while Rawiller and Lucky Hussler were making up ground.
The eventual Kevin Heffernan Stakes winner moved up and tackled Illustrious Lad, the two fighting it out right to the line for a photo result.
Lucky Hussler ($5.50) just got there in the final stride from Illustrious Lad ($3.20), finishing too strongly on the inside of the game runner-up who lost no admirers with his placing.
Andrew Noblet’s Written Tycoon mare Super Cash ($9) finished off the Kevin Heffernan Stakes trifecta in third, doing well to finish in the money after coming from right back in the field.
Lucky Hussler didn’t get things exactly his way in the run having to go back towards the inside late, but Rawiller was confident going into the race after the galloper’s strong trial performance on Tuesday.
“I come here with so much confidence,” he said post-win.
Weir said the focus now would be on the Gold Coast’s Magic Millions Carnival in January where Lucky Hussler would defend his title in the $1 million Magic Millions Cup (1400m).
“He’s been a great horse for connections and for us too since he come to us,” he said.
“His last two runs he didn’t run like he’d been working.
“He went terrific without the blinkers on Tuesday morning so we decided to roll the dice and race without them.
“He attacked the line well like we know he can.
“He looks back on track now for the Magic Millions.
“He showed that today and he had to because the second horse [Illustrious Lad] has been in terrific form and they’re always hard to beat when they’re racing that good.
“There was nothing between them, just the bob of the head.
“We’ll focus now on the Magic Millions and head up there for the race that he won last year.”
To back Lucky Hussler to win the 2017 Magic Million Cup head to our preferred online sportsbook Ladbrokes.com.au.
2016 Kevin Heffernan Stakes Results
Sandown Race 8 – 12/11/2016
|1||1||LUCKY HUSSLER||Darren Weir||Brad Rawiller||–||4||59kg||$5.50|
|2||4||ILLUSTRIOUS LAD||Peter Gelagotis||Anthony Darmanin||0.1L||11||59kg||$3.20F|
|3||11||SUPER CASH||Andrew Noblet||Craig Williams||4.1L||6||57kg||$8.50|
|4||8||DURENDAL||Mathew Ellerton & Simon Zahra||Damian Lane||5.6L||8||59kg||$19|
|5||7||FAATINAH||David & B Hayes & T Dabernig||Regan Bayliss (a)||5.7L||2||59kg||$9.50|
|6||5||BURNING FRONT||Darren Weir||Dean Yendall||6.7L||3||59kg||$71|
|7||10||SANTA ANA LANE||Lee & Anthony Freedman||Kerrin McEvoy||7.45L||7||59kg||$21|
|8||6||TRIED AND TIRED||Jarrod McLean||John Allen||7.55L||1||59kg||$91|
|9||3||FAMOUS SEAMUS (NZ)||Noel Mayfield-Smith||Hugh Bowman||8.3L||10||59kg||$13|
|10||9||WE’VE GOT THIS||Greg Eurell||Damien Oliver||8.8L||9||59kg||$16|
|11||2||UNDER THE LOUVRE||Robert Smerdon||Dwayne Dunn||10.55L||5||59kg||$6.50|
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