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Emotional Johnson wins first Birdsville Cup

Emotional johnson claims first birdsville cup

By Alex Nolan

An emotional Bevan ‘Billy’ Johnson struggled for words after his grand old warrior Blue Jest lumped the 63kg to win the 2018 UBET Birdsville Cup, his first after 7 years of trying.

Apprentice Adin Thompson urged the eight-year-old over the line after a thrilling battle up the straight with the Phillip Stokes-trained Boggoms and Jay Morriss’ Expat Envy.

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“I’m pretty emotional, hey. He’s one of the toughest bush horses I’ve ever had,” Johnson said.

“I’ve been confident with the horse all week. He felt good, ate, and has done everything right.

“They always tell me you can’t win with the top weight. Then we drew the outside barrier and I think he was a pretty good price too!

“We’re going out tonight…”

It was the first feature race win for Johnson’s 17-year-old apprentice Adin Thompson, who only started riding about six months ago.

“I can’t explain it it’s the best feeling,” he said.

“It took a fair while to get a win and for I while I didn’t know I’d get one. Then I got one and started riding a few doubles and now I’ve come here and won a Birdsville Cup, it’s unbelievable.”

So how does he plan to celebrate the win?

“Brophy’s (boxing) tent,” he said.

“I had one win in there last year I fought one of the Brophy boys and won that so will see how I go in there when I fight for Brophy this year.”

hickmott wins with first queensland runner

By Alex Nolan

Michael Hickmott had held a carrer-long ambition to attend the Birdsville Carnival and his 1100km journey from South Australia proved worthwhile when Jayeffkay dominated the Akubra QTIS Added Stakes Class 2 this afternoon.

Hickmott, who donated a 5% share of his Birdsville Cup runner Unbreakable to the Queensland drought appeal, was confident Jayeffkay could atone for a down the track effort at his last start in Darwin. 

"He's a nice horse. He missed the start in Darwin and then we bought him ... he's paid his way now," Hickmott said. 

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Photo: Michael McInally/Three Way Photos

"He tries really hard and (Jockey) Johnny (Keating) gave him a peach." 

Hickmott could make it two Queensland runners for two winners if Unbreakable wins the Cup. 

"He was favourite in a Darwin Cup so he'll handle the dirt no worries," Hickmott said. 

"He's an enigmatic horse but if the right Unbreakable turns up today he'll probably win." 

Keating praised Hickmott's training ability after the win. 

"He's a good trainer who comes from a very good line of trainers," he said. 

morriss lands winning double after satan da shows demon speed

By Alex Nolan

Trainer Jay Morriss continued the remarkable performance by Mt Isa trainers at Birdsville when the heavily backed Satan Da stormed clear to win the Lyndhurst Stud Class 5. 

Satan Da arrived at Birdsville after an impressive last-start effort at the 'Isa, and after jockey Raymond Vigar's aggressive tactics ensured the horse crossed the field from a wide gate before storming away to record a dominant win. 

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Morriss, who won the 2011 (Just A Touch) and 2015 (Iron Meteorite) Birdsville Cups made it a winning double for the weekend after Beaudragon saluted in the last event on Friday.

Satan Da was the fifth Isa-trained horse to salute this weekend. 

"I don't know why we're doing so well but historically, Isa trainers have a really good record here so there's no great secret," he said. 

Morriss will attemp to win his third Birdsville Cup when he saddles up Expat Envy (11) later this afternoon. Fellow Isa trainer Bob Burow will have Good Job Bro (8) with  ro

mount isa strikes again

By Alex Nolan

Mount Isa has brought up another winner at the Birdsville Cup Carnival after jockey Dan Ballard steered the Mark Oates-trained Alfiarto to win the BM 55 this afternoon. 

The lightly raced 5YO returned to the winners' stall for the first time since August 5 last year after an enforced layoff due to injury. 

Alfiarto loomed in the home straight and proved too strong as he finished over the top of the well-supported Safdie. 

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"He's a good little horse," Oates said. 

"He'll have a couple more runs and then go for another spell." 

Ballard predicted a bright future for Alfiarto. 

"All credit to my boy, he dug deep," Ballard said. 

The Todd Austin-trained Payback was well supported to win the race for a second year running with 71.5kg but took no part in the race after staying in the gates. 

smith and day start CUP DAY in style

By Alex Nolan

They did it the tough way but Roma trainer Craig Smith and jockey Nathan Day have posted their first win for the carnival in the opener on Cup day at Birdsville. 

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A fruitless day on Friday was quickly forgotten when publishing gelding 'The Scoop' hung tough to claim the Maiden over 1200m ahead of My Mind Is Madeup and the fast-finishing Truffle Hunter. 

The Scoop bounced to the lead early and despite being challenge numerous times in the straight, was able to score a narrow victory. 

While not thrilled with his ride, Day said it was Smith's ability as a trainer that got the horse home. 

"I went for home too early and we were lucky to get away with it," Day said. 

"Lucky Smithy is a good trainer and had him fit." 

The jockey on second placegetter My Mind Is Madeup viewed the stewards footage after the race after The Scoop shifted out over the final furlong but didn't lodge a protest. 

Hoop out to atone for 'grubby' day

Nathan 'Grubby' Day didn't have the success he'd hoped on Day 1 of the Birdsville Carnival, but has a strong book of rides again today, including Palace Tycoon in the UBET Birdsville Cup. 

How does he think the track will play?

By Alex Nolan

It's Cup Day in Birdsville, where a crowd of up to 6000 is expected trackside for the seven-race program kicking off at 1.07pm. 

A number of horses are on the quick back-up after racing yesterday, with QRIC stewards confirming all runners had been passed fit to race again. 

Back-up runners 

Race 1 #3 Spud, #6 Truffle Hunter

Race 2 #3 Christmas Cheer

Race 4 #3 Yeezy, #13 Choice Son, #15 Dutton Bay

Race 7 #7 Arigold

Puntersland has put together it's Runners To Watch for the meeting below. For all your form, replays, speed maps and more, click here. 

DAY 1 WRAP

By Alex Nolan

Jockey Ric McMahon completed a winning double aboard Beaudragon in Race 6 as Mt Isa trainers dominated the opening day of proceedings at Birdsville.

McMahon won the second race aboard Lord Windermere for Bob Burow, before fellow Mt Isa trainers Damien Finter (Deadly Choices) and Steven Royes (Moving Target) added to the tally. 

Beaudragon's win completed a winning quadrella for 'The Isa', with the horse now in the care of Jay Morriss. 

The Pendragon gelding returned to the winners' stall for the first time since January, when he saluted in BM75 grade at the Sunshine Coast. 

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McMahon was able to position Beaudragon on the speed but was forced wide nearing the 400m mark. 

However the former Darryl Hansen runner proved too strong, recording his first win for the Moriss stable. 

"You could never be confident after his past couple of runs," Morriss said.

"He's bred to go a lot further but we've never had the prep to get him over further. 

"He does go well the horse and it was very pleasing."

 

birdsville target pays off

By Alex Nolan

Punters were on the money in the fifth at Birdsville as Moving Target ($3.70) justified a strong betting move to win the UBET Class 1 Handicap. 

The six-year-old gelding brought up career win number two after transferring from NSW trainer Paul McVicar to Mt Isa trainer Steven Royes in August. 

It was the second Mt Isa winner for the day after Bob Burow saluted with Lord Windermere in the second. DS5-0917.jpg

Royes stable representative Darren Burgess said a positive Jason Babarovic ride from barrier 1 made the difference. 

"When you draw barrier 1 you have to use it," he said. 

Babarovich said the horse had worked well during the week. 

"I was super confident," he said. 

"He handled that easily."

Robb tips bright future for ross

By Alex Nolan

Trainer Rodney Robb has tipped a bright future for apprentice jockey Alisha Ross, who claimed her first TAB race in the fourth on Friday aboard the well-supported Austin. 

Ross made headlines nationwide when she broke onto the scene earlier this year, riding winners with seemless ease. 

The Todd and Toni Austin apprentice has since notched about 25 career winners, and today brought up her first at Birdsville. 

Robb said Ross's grounding in pony clubs was the key to her early success. 

"She's a good rider," he said. 

"I've been involved in Pony Clubs for more than 30 years and that's where we need to be looking for jockeys in the future." 

Austin, which dropped back in grade after running third in the Betoota Cup, jumped well and Ross was able to secure the run of the race. 

"He just travelled so well," she said. DS4-0888.jpg

PUNCHING ABOVE THEIR WEIGHT

By Alex Nolan

Former boxing coach-turned-trainer Bob Burow was filled with pride after his diminutive gelding Lord Windemere punched above his weight to claim the second race at Birdsville on Friday. 

The former Lindsay Hatch-trained runner lumped the 61kg to edge out the Denise Ballard-trained Believe It Or not after a ding-dong battle over the final furlong. 

It was a late pick-up for jockey Ric McMahon, who will guide Betoota Cup winner Husonique in the UBET Birdsville Cup tomorrow. 

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Photo: Michael McInally/Three Way Photos

Burow said the key to finding winning form with Lord Windermere was to keep him fresh. 

"I've got to thank Lindsay for that advice," he said. 

"This horse is knee-high to a grasshopper but he's a real little tryer."

Burow said his last Birdsville winner was in 2008 but he's hoping he doesn't have to wait that long between drinks again, as he saddles up Good Job Bro in the UBET Birdsville Cup on Saturday. 

Burow picked Good Job Bro up from Charters Towers trainer John Barr last month, when he was able to break through for his first win since February 2017 by 10L at Camoweel. 

ten foot tall claims birdsville opener

By Alex Nolan

Oakey trainer Neil Owen has claimed the first race for the 2018 UBET Birdsville Cup Carnival with the well-supported Ten Foot Tall. 

The four-year-old mare sprung out of the gates with jockey Les 'Bubba' Tilley aboard.

The pair kicked clear at the top of the straight to establish an unassailable lead. 

Tilley said it was a thrill to get a win on the board so early in the weekend. 

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​Photo: Michael McInally/Three Way Photos

"She's been showing a lot of good potential but we just needed to get the fitness right and the 1000m today was perfect," he said. 

Ten Foot Tall beat home the heavily backed No Crystal Ball for trainer Bob Burow and Truffle Hunter for Darwin trainer Tayarn Halter. 

Lynn throws support behind #betonbirdsville

Brisbane Heat, Queensland and Ausssie big-hitting superstar Chris Lynn has thrown his support behind the #BetOnBirdsville campaign. 

A keen follower of horse racing, Lynn said he hoped the campaign helped make a big difference in the lives of farmers doing it tough.

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Jim 'Pumper' Cassidy has always wanted to attend the Birdsville races and this year he brought the Lexus Melbourne Cup along for the ride! 

Will he dust off the kit and go for a spin around the famous dirt track this weekend?

Murray Bridge trainer Michael Hickmott generously donated a 5% share in his horse, UBET Birdsville Cup hopeful Unbreakable with all proceeds from an online auction going to the QLD drought appeal.  

weight no worries for caviar

Trainer Henry Forster is confident his gun bush spritner Bush Caviar can lump the 64.5kg to victory in today's $20,000 Open Handicap (1200m) at Birdsville. 

The 8yo gelding has been a prolific winner for the Forster team and finished second in the first edition of the Battle of the Bush Series behind Mason's Chance at Doomben in June.

Bush Caviar has been forced to carry big weights in many of his recent starts, including 64.5kg when winning at Betoota last weekend.

"He's going really good," he said. 

"It's not a concern. He's carried 63 and 62 (to win) in the past 12 months. The lowest weight he's had was in the Battle of the Bush." 

UBET Has installed the tough sprinter a $4.80 chance to win the race, which includes the Craig Smith-trained city winner Rooi Roe ($2.00) and fellow Doomben winner Beaudragon ($5.50). 

Forster also saddles up Heroism in the UBET Birdsville Cup.