It was a Group One to remember. The gutsy mare, Sheidel, was working off heart and fumes as she raced into the shadows of the post, but the hulk – aka Takedown – was casting a shadow of his own and would find the line a short head sooner. A genuine thriller among Australia’s 2016 elites.
Yes, Saturday’s Crown Perth Winterbottom Stakes was memorable for what happened between go and whoa, but it was the subsequent ‘celebrations’ from the winning trainer which are guaranteed to live on for every Perth racing fan.
It might have been Frankie Dettori that made famous the ‘star jump’, but it’s former jockey-turned-trainer, Gary Moore, that is perfecting the star jump, star wave, star run, star leap and even, for one lucky commentator, a star kiss.
Moore certainly doesn’t fit the bill of ‘dignified’ trainer holding court for the assembled media after a big win, and it would be a deft reporter that could shove a microphone under his nose for more than two seconds as he runs off down the straight in search of his stable star.
Heaven knows what sort of reaction we can expect if Takedown wins the HK$18.5 million Longines International Sprint at Sha Tin on 11 December, because that’s where the massive galloper is heading next and, according to Moore: “if he gets a good draw, he’ll win”.
Takedown has received an invitation to the International Sprint following the late withdrawal of Irish horse, Profitable, and joins Group One Manikato Stakes winner, Rebel Dane, as Australian-trained hopes for the prestigious event.
(The Australian-bred, Hong Kong based runners remaining in the field at this stage are Lucky Bubbles, Not Listenin’tome and Strathmore).
Moore, a son of the legendary jockey, George Moore, will be endeavouring to emulate the deeds of his brother, John, a Champion trainer in Hong Kong for many years who saddled up Australian-bred, Inspiration, to win the prestigious Sprint event in 2008.
A former top jockey in his own right, winning the 1981 Prix de l’Arc de Triomphe on Gold River and a 7-time Champion in Hong Kong, Gary Moore won the Macau Trainers’ Premiership eight times before setting up his Sydney stable.
“That was very special,” Moore said when eventually shifting back into second gear. “This is my first Group One winner in Australia and one I’m never likely to forget. My brother, John, trained this year’s Queensland Derby winner (Eagle Way) and now I’m looking to follow in his footsteps and win the Sprint in Hong Kong.
“And what a great ride from Tim (Clark) … he’s riding better than George Moore!
“All jokes aside, dad would be very proud.”
Bred and raced by Widden Stud, along with long-time friends and clients, Robert and Deb Anderson, Takedown is the fifth individual Group One winner (32 stakes winners overall) for the famous farm’s Golden Slipper winner and sire, Stratum, who passed away earlier this year.
However, in Stratum’s absence, another of Widden’s Golden Slipper winners in Sebring, has stepped right up to the mark with 2YOs Serena Bay and Keeper Keen maintaining their unbeaten records with emphatic victories in Sydney and Perth.
“The win of Takedown underscores the loss of Stratum, but that’s the only downside from the day,” Widden Stud’s Antony Thompson points out. “It was such a terrific win by Takedown and so great to see Gary end up with his Group One after the horse had won the Premiere and The Shorts earlier this campaign. Gary’s kind of enthusiasm is definitely addictive.
“The Thompson and Moore families have a lot of history together. George owned Yarraman Park at one stage and I’ve been great friends with both John and Gary for many years and am proud of the fact we supported Gary when he set up training in Australia … to be part of his first Group One win here is fantastic.
“And what a great job by West Australian racing. They have really made a conscious effort to build up their carnival … last week was the locals turn, this time around it was the raiders and they’ve got another great program this Saturday.
“Grant Burns from Magic Millions has worked hard to build the profile of the carnival: flying across horses, trainers, sorting accommodation – just making visitors feel at home and they all deserve a huge wrap for all their efforts.
“They are certainly laying the groundwork for future carnivals and I can only see Perth going from strength to strength.”
Thompson was also ecstatic with the progress of Sebring: “He covered, is still covering actually, another full book of quality mares this spring and it was very pleasing to see both Serena Bay and Keeper Keen maintain their unbeaten records on Saturday.
“It follows on nicely from his 2YOs topping the New Zealand Ready To Run Sale earlier this month and sets him up for a promising run at 2017 yearling sales in Australia.”