By Glenn Davis
Caloundra trainer Darryl Hansen will continue on his country Cups crusade with Balboa Rocks after the gelding survived a protest to claim the Mackay Cup on Saturday.
Hansen landed his second Mackay Cup when Balboa Rocks, ridden by Bobby El-Issa, proved too strong with a short neck win over Tucano in the 1800-metre feature.
Glenda Bell’s Fastnet Flyer was third, a further three-quarters of a length away.
Hansen won the Mackay Cup with Stage Shaker in 2008.
Hansen was always confident Balboa Rocks could give him another country Cups feature following the four-year-old’s third to Mamselle Corday in the Rockhampton Cup (1600m) seven days earlier.
The win took Balboa Rock’s record to eight wins and nine placings from 26 starts with prizemoney of more than $302,000.
“I was always confident he could win after he ran so well in the Rocky Cup,” Hansen said.
“He’s been looking for 1800 metres.
“When he ran in the Rocky Cup he took too much time going through his gears on a bog track.
“He’s been very consistent. He tries his guts out and it was a really big effort to win.”
Hansen praised El-Issa’s ride off a wide gate.
“It was a great ride. After the post he was fourth the fence from barrier 12,” he said.
Hansen now plans to head north with Balboa Rocks for the $100,000 Townsville Cup (2000m) on July 28.
“I won the Townsville Cup with Hussonator in 2011 so hopefully I can make it two there as well.”
Meanwhile former jockey Trinity Bannon landed her biggest wins of her training career when Grand Emperor won the Newmarket Handicap (1300m).
Rising nine-year-old Grand Emperor, ridden by Justin Stanley, powered home to down Avonaco by a short half head with Rivariva third, only a half neck away in a blanket finish.
“It was pretty exciting. It was hard for me to see where I was standing but everyone kept telling me I had won,” Bannon said.
“It was relieving when his number when up in the frame.
“Justin (Stanley) has been really good for me since I started training.
“I wanted to run him in last year’s Newmarket but we ran out of time.
“So, we thought we’d do it right this time and it worked out – just.”
Bannon has earmarked a race at Mackay in two weeks for Grand Emperor but hasn’t ruled out the $100,000 Cleveland Bay Handicap (1200m) in Townsville the same day.
Racing Queensland webnews July 14