It was the feature event and it was to be the race of the day after Guilded Spirits came from nowhere to snatch a brilliant win in the Port of Brisbane Cup on Saturday.
But it almost wasn’t THE news of the carnival after a mob of race loving kangaroos bounded in to join in the party.
They were eventually “run off” but not before special guest, legendary trainer, Peter Moody texted to race fans throughout Australia he’d never seen anything like it.
More than 600 race fans, the biggest since the event began, flocked to Gunsynd Park for the annual Bush-to-Port Race Day.
A number of people took advantage of the free gate courtesy of Burleigh Beach Tower while Rachel Gleeson was the lucky winner of five nights accommodation.
More than ten business and groups held their annual Christmas party on the day.
It was overcast but the rain held off until the last.
Conditions were perfect.
The opening event was the Qube Logistics Benchmark 50 over 1200m.
Short price favourite was Going Grey but for a long part of the journey, it was stable mate Cool Stinger who looked like causing a boilover, but as was the pattern for the day on the fast track, Corder arrived in the shadows of the post to win.
Corder is trained at Beaudesert by Ben Robinson who seems to be winning races everywhere he goes and was ridden by 4kg claiming apprentice Gregory Hayes. Cool Stinger was second and Kingsmith Flyer third.
The second of the day was the Wagner’s Maiden Handicap and the good thing of the day appeared to be Safe Harbour, a lightly raced four year-old daughter of Beneteau trained in Moree by Peter Sinclair. Safe Harbour was ridden by leading NSW jockey Craig Franklin giving him the first leg of a winning double and which gave the father and son combination of Peter and Nathan Sinclair a double as well.
Firestorm Fury tried hard to pinch it but a patient ride by Franklin saw the mare move away to win by 2.8l with Drummle back in third.
The third was the Graincorp Class B over 1400m and it was a very open affair. Burketown Larrikin jumped straight to the front for Jason Missen and looked every bit a winner until once again, another backmarker, this time Rahdane arrived for Todd Banks.
Rahdane is trained at Gatton by Brenton Andrew who is another that seldom comes to Gunsynd Park without collected some prizemoney. Burketown Larrikin held second while Sheza Good Girl was right on their hammer for third.
Feature event for the day was the Port of Brisbane Cup, over 1400m for BM 70 horses.
Long time supporter of Goondiwindi, Tom Dougall, saddled up the short price favourite Hightower in the small field. Hightower set a sizzling pace, only .07 outside the track record of 1.21.37. Ironically, that track record was held by another Sinclair-trained horse, Free Billy, but as was the case all day, the outside horse prevailed and Gilded Spirit, trained by Nathan Sinclair finished right out wide to win by a nose.
Even caller Brett Moody was taken by surprise so quick was the finish of Gilded Spirit.
This was the second leg of a winning double for Franklin. Hightower’s jockey, Shannon Apthorpe looked at the photo before conceding and Harsburg was four lengths back in third place.
The Interlink Benchmark 60 over 100m was the last of the day and once again.
But it was not without incident. The predicted storms that the stewards had been watching closely all day were about to hit. The rain was just sprinkling when all at once, a small pack of kangaroos entered the track and settled in the midfield.
Stewards ordered the removal of the marsupials and one very dedicated barrier attendant chased them on foot until out of the grounds. Everyone in the crowd was amused with proceedings and even special guest Peter Moody tweeted all over Australia that he had never witnessed anything like it before.
The rain was getting slightly heavier when they jumped and the favourite, The Robber was first to begin from the good gate but was soon taken on by Music Scene who led to the 50m mark when the now Queenslander and Victoria heavy weight jockeys’ champion, Paul Hamblin punched Starwood under 64kgs to the line to win.
This was the second time in 12 months the pair had combined to win at Gunsynd Park under big weights. The Johnny Collins trained 6yr-son of Red Dazzler was simply too good despite the big impost. But the weight did not deter the strongest of Hamblin supporters who lapped up the $7 starting price on offer.
Ten minutes after the last race, the rain arrived and Gunsynd Park received 25m of rain to cap of what was a really good day of racing in front of a big crowd.
The next meeting at Gunsynd Park will be Saturday, February 24.