Apache Cat holds out Mic Mac for victory, picture Quentin Lang, quentinjlang.com
Apache Cat won the best sprint race of the spring to-date in the $200,000, Group 2, Schweppes Stakes (1200m) at Moonee Valley on Saturday, after a brilliant ride by Damien Oliver that did not go around a horse, and the seven-year-old sprinter, trained by Greg Eurell, did the rest.
There was a select group of nine sprinters in the race and Apache Cat and Lucky Secret were the favoured two with Apache Cat sent out at $2.80 and Lucky Secret at $3.70. The latter broke very well from the barriers under Nash Rawiller from barrier one and led until Back Robber and Blake Shinn came over from barrier seven to take up the running.
Oliver sent Apache Cat out from barrier four to sit against the rails behind Bank Robber and Lucky Secret, and he did not move from that position.
Bank Robber took the field to the 300m when Lucky Secret was moved out from behind the leader and went wide, with Mic Mac and Danny Nikolic outside them making a line of three. Oliver moved Apache Cat closer to be just in behind Bank Robber.
They swung for the 200m run to the line and Bank Robber went wide taking Lucky Secret and Mic Mac with him. The gap was there for Oliver. Apache Cat saw the clear running and he responded to Oliver’s urging.
The crowd roared as Mic Mac, stablemate of Apache Cat, and Bank Robber went stride for stride. Mic Mac went ahead slightly, but by the 100m mark Apache Cay was making progress and he was half a length from the horses on his outside.
By the 50m mark he had the race, his big white blinkers covering his white blaze prominent, and Oliver stood in the irons and saluted as they went past the line, The crowd loved it.
Mic Mac (Statue Of Liberty) was second to give Eurell the quinella, with Bank Robber (Dash For Cash) impressive in third, his first race since June. Ortensia was fourth, Lucky Secret fifth and Light Fantastic sixth, Danleigh seventh. The margins from first were a short neck, 1/2L, neck, nose, 3/4L nose.
The time was 1.10.01 on the good (3) track and the final 600m in 34.78. Apache Cat paid $2.80 on STAB.
The crowd loved it again when Oliver returned on Apache Cat as he went past the stands pointing to the horse.
“He is a legend this horse,” he said on his return.
“I was a bit concerned I might not get the run and so many people love him and you would hate to see him get beaten due to unfortunate circumstances. But the run came and he dived through it and he charged them down late.
“He was just really well received by the crowd, it was a great buzz. He deserves all the credit and he has shown over a number of years now that he is at this level and Greg has done a great job to keep him up at his best. He deserves all the credit and I just send him around.
“He is just a star and he has done it over many seasons and the crowd just love him,” he said.
“A very special moment and I have always said that it is hard to split those two and against this field I am absolutely thrilled,” said Eurell.
Eurell said that a return trip to Hong Kong for the International Race meeting on December was now on the agenda, including the lead in races before the main meeting.
Apache Cat was clocking up win number 19 from 41 starts, and with 11 placings he has earned stakes of $4,561,155. He is by Lion Cavern out of the Whisky Road mare Tennessee Blaze and owned by PF Radford, Ms RN Lawrie, GE Riddell, Mrs ST Riddell, Mrs MB Lofthouse and KJ Lofthouse. They have had a wonderful time with their crowd favourite, and there is more to come.
Damien Oliver returns pointing to Apache Cat to show where the praise for the win should be, picture Sportpix.com.au.