Alma’s Fury was the surprise winner of the $250,000, Group 2, WFA Schweppes Apollo Stakes (1400m) at Warwick Farm with the race run in torrential rain on a rain soaked track with trainer Paul Murray as surprised as punters.
Alma's Fury and Blake Shinn (red cap) defy a torrential downpour to win the Apollo Stakes, picture sportpix.com.au
The rain, courtesy of a major low pressure system that made its way down from Queensland over the past week leaving heavy rainfall in its wake, had turned the Warwick Farm track from a Slow 6 on Saturday morning to a Heavy 9 after race one.
The rain was falling so heavily when the barriers opened race caller Mark Sheen used the broadcast monitors with the camera’s ability to look through the gloom to call the race and with great presence of mind Sheen correctly called the field into the main straight.
The leading trio as they swung for the run up the straight were Laser Hawk and Nash Rawiller closest to the rails but racing three off, Tougher Than Ever (NZ) and James McDonald in the middle and Alma’s Fury and Blake Shinn making a run on the outside.
Once into the straight Laser Hawk faded in his first race in twelve months and Danleigh and Jim Cassidy came through to take their place on the inside.
Out in the middle the three-year-old Tougher Than Ever was still leading. Danleigh on the inside was closing but not making up enough ground on the leader, with the danger on the outside from Alma’s Fury and Shinn.
With 50m to run Alma’s Fury finally had the upper hand and they maintained their lead to win with a long head margin over Tougher Than Ever (General Nediym), with veteran Danleigh (Mujahid) third, the margin a head.
Willy Jimmy was fourth and Kelinni (IRE) fifth. The $4.50 favourite Glencadam Gold (IRE) was 10th after not handling the ground from the moment the barriers opened reported Tommy Berry.
The time was 1.22.32 with the final 600m in 35.04. Alma’s Fury paid $24.00 on NSW TAB.
Blake Shinn, Alma's Fury, was always on the outside and in front of the rest of the field, picture Sportpix.com.au
Corey Brown, Kelinni, was not so lucky, picture Sportpix.com.au
“I just cannot believe it, I am dumbfounded,” said Murray.
“He has never liked it (wet tracks) and I just said to the owners we had to go around to get fit for the National Sprint at Canberra over 1400m in ten days. I was just on the phone to the owner and he said you are a genius but I do not know how, up to the horse I suppose.
“I did not know where he was and when he called him hitting the front I could not believe him being there,” he said.
Melbourne Cup winning jockey Shinn was returning to race riding after taking time out to overcome having to stand down with heat exhaustion on Gosford Cup Day in mid-January.
Earlier in the programme he had won the Canley Heights Hotel Bm 80 Handicap (1300m) on the Guy Walter trained Jacquinot Bay so it was a winning double for his return.
“It was a fantastic win,” he said.
“He travelled like the winner for the whole race and when I asked him for the supreme effort he responded really well. He won very comprehensively.
“He has not been that adept on the wet before but I just tried to keep him out of trouble in the fresh ground and kept hold of his head for as long as I could, and he responded when I asked.
“It was a fantastic against the best weight-for-age horses we have in Sydney at the moment.
“It is great self-satisfaction to be able to do this on the first Saturday meeting back. I am just trying to keep my feet on the ground, keep my head and hopefully this is going to lead into a good autumn,” he said.
Alma’s Fury is a five-year-old Refuse To Bend gelding out of the What A Guest mare Dance Attendance. This was his sixth win from 30 starts and with nine placings he has earned stakes of $517,005 for owners Meringo Stud Syndicate (Mgr: T Hartnell), Kern Group Horse Syndicates Pty Ltd Synd (Mgr: G Kern), R Lavis, D W Kern, J E Kern and Mrs M Nugent.
Photofinish picture ATC