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Vaunting claims Gordonvale Cup

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Vaunting claims Gordonvale Cup
By Taron Clarke

Punters of all ages flocked to Saturday's Gordonvale Turf Club Cup Day meeting under sunny skies and warm conditions. Always a hit with the local community, the picturesque race course set at the foot of Walsh's Pyramid, which is according to several sources is the world's highest free standing pyramid and is located approximately 20km south of Cairns in the tropical surrounds of Far North Queensland.

The 2017 edition saw the 101st running of the Gordonvale Cup (1800m) worth $15,000 and drew together a strong field of eight starters, headlined by four-time Brisbane metropolitan winning gelding Hot Saga, trained by leading Cairns conditioner Fred Weiland.

However it was the most inexperienced horse in the race, Vaunting, that started the punter's elect (SP $3.30F) and sent many patrons home with a spring in their step as he scored an effortless victory, eased down over the final stages to post a two length margin over Hot Saga (SP $7), with a long head back to veteran campaigner Mukaddamah Son (SP $9) in third. 

Trained on the Atherton Tablelands by Sam Molino and expertly steered by partner, jockey Steve Wilson, the bay son of Fastnet Rock was prominent from the get go, taking up a forward position passing the winning post on the first occasion, before Wilson set the Tom Hedley owned gelding loose approaching the home turn, sprinting clear upon straightening under his 55kg impost and winning eased down over the concluding stages, making amends for a recent defeat in the Atherton Cup.

A $260,000 purchase by Gai Waterhouse and James Harron at the 2014 Magic Millions Gold Coast Yearling Sale, the well bred galloper only had three unsuccessful runs for the First Lady of Australian Racing before being purchased by Hedley and his consortium of owners and sent north to Molino at Tolga. 

A winner of four of his twenty career starts and placed on a further nine occasions, the son of Fastnet Rock will head to the Innisfail Cup run over 2000m in two weeks time and based on Saturday's victory, the five year old gelding will start a pronounced favourite.

The opening event on the five race card went to the way of the Leanne Ashford trained Hungry Horse (SP $4.20) with apprentice Amanda Thomson in the saddle. The son of Furio was quickly into stride from his outside barrier before Thomson assumed control and careered away in the straight to post a three length margin over Captain To A Tee (SP $6) and a further length back to the favourite Bracing (SP $2.70F) in third. 

Punters got it in right in race two when the locally trained Nic's Time (SP $3.50F) was quickly into stride for jockey Graham Kliese and won as she liked by two and a quarter lengths over Love Red (SP $6) and a further four and a half lengths back to Propserum (SP $10) in third. 

Trained on course by the shrewd Ralph Baker, the removal of Bar Plates from the mare's racing gear was a sure indication that the trainer had got the mare's feet right and the ease of the victory suggested that was certainty the case. A beautiful type of mare and lightly raced for a five year old, the daughter of Time Thief looks set to return to a Townsville TAB race in the not too distant future.

Tuscan Falls (SP $5) made it two wins from his last three starts in race three, when the Stephen Massingham trained son of Nicconi led all the way under the steering of apprentice Emily Cass.

Coming off a slightly disappointing performance at Townsville last start, the six year old gelding was quickly into stride from his wide gate and Cass rated the bay to a nicety in front and won with a leg in air to score by two lengths over the ever consistent Effigy Belle (SP $5) and three-quarters of a length back to Bon Temps (SP $6) in third. 

Massingham has identified the time honoured Johnstone River Handicap run over 1200m at Innisfail in two weeks as his immediate target for the $80,000 purchase from the 2013 Inglis Australian Easter Yearling Sale. 

The fourth event of the day saw apprentice Amanda Thomson chalk up a career milestone when she scored a narrow victory onboard the Jeff Williams trained Big Tomee (SP $10) to the groans of the punters. 

For Thompson the win marked her 50th career winner from 303 rides with a 16% strike rate after making her riding debut at Gordonvale in March 2016. 

Big Tomee, a six year old son of Snippetson burst through the pack to score a half head victory over the early pacemaker Our Kapow (SP $4.20), with a neck back to track specialist and favourite Global Guru (SP $3.20) in third. It was a watershed day for Thomson who scored a winning double along with two seconds and a third from the five races to claim the most successful jockey of the afternoon.

Attention in the far north now turns to the Innisfail Turf Club Innisfail Cup Raceday on Saturday 21st October, with the $16,250 Innisfail Cup run over 2000m and the $16,250 Johnstone River Open Handicap over 1200m the two features on a bumper six race card.
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