By Glenn Davis
Trainer Chris Munce is hoping to stem a “Blues” tidal wave this winter with First Crush in the Listed Caloundra Cup at the Sunshine Coast on Saturday.
First Crush was runner-up to Victorian stayer Tradesman in the Listed Ipswich Cup last start but it has been NSW-trained horses who have easily dominated the Brisbane winter carnival this year.
NSW-trained horses have claimed 33 Stakes races from 54 races so far this winter.
Queensland-trained runners have had a lean carnival but Munce is hoping to salvage some lost pride with First Crush in the Caloundra Cup.
Munce won the Caloundra Cup three times as a jockey aboard Oompala (1994), Yamma (2000m) and Brayroan (2014) and is intent on winning it as a trainer.
The former Grand Slam winning jockey has been training for only three years after an illustrious career in the saddle.
He attempted to win the race as a trainer with his only previous Caloundra Cup runner Perplexity who finished fifth to Index Linked in 2015.
“It’d be a great honour to win the Caloundra Cup as a trainer and I think I’ve got the right horse to do it,” Munce said.
“He’s the best stayer I’ve had and the most honest and genuine.
“A wet track won’t worry him either.”
First Crush is raced by Max Whitby who has been a great supporter of Munce since he swapped the saddle for binoculars and Jenny Moses.
Moses is the wife of Kevin Moses, who trained the six-year-old in Sydney before the gelding was sent to Queensland after only five starts.
First Crush was a Class One horse when he first arrived at Munce’s stables in 2016 before working his way through the restricted ranks.
Munce took the son of Husson to Grafton last year where he won the Grafton Cup Prelude before finishing seventh in the Grafton Cup won by the Gai Waterhouse and Adrian Bott-trained Supply And Demand.
First Crush has had a long campaign which started back in November but had a month off after finishing third in the Listed Toowoomba Cup in April.
He subsequently finished eighth on two occasions in the Listed Member’s Cup and Group 3 Lord Mayor’s Cup at Doomben last month prior to his Ipswich Cup effort.
“His Ipswich Cup run was super and I thought his lead-up runs were terrific, particularly in the weight-for-age race (Lord Mayor’s Cup),” Munce said.
“He was only one or two lengths behind Group 1 horses and had to be ridden out of his comfort zone.”
First Crush is likely to have his next start in the Group 3 Queens Cup (3200m) at the Sunshine Coast on July 14 in preference to the Listed Grafton Cup (2350m) two days earlier.
Racing Queensland webnews June 27