FOR the second year a New Zealand horse has came out on top to win the Murtoa Cup.
Survived took out the $30,000 QLS Logistics Cup on Saturday when it crossed the line half a length ahead of the Terry and Karina O’Sullivan-trained Patch Adams. The eight-year-old gelding from New Zealand jumped out of gate number two well and set the pace early along with Diamond Duke and All Clear. Dylan Bates happily sat in behind Diamond Duke, trained by Paul Pruesker and ridden by Holly McKechnie, for much of the back straight in the 2050-metre race. Bates made his move to the front with 400 metres to go and continued to make a strong push toward the line. Patch Adam, ridden by Jack Hill, made a strong run toward the end but could not come over the top and neither could pre-race favourite Kiwia who rounded out the trifecta.
In the day’s other feature race I Am the Dark won $50,000 in the first of the Melbourne Cup Carnival Country series’ heats.
Stawell apprentice jockey Jess Eaton jumped out to a large lead early in the 1600-metre race and managed to hold on by half-a-length despite her horse showing signs of tiring towards the end.
Murtoa Marma Racing Club operations manager Penny Penfold said it was great for the series to start off in Murtoa.
“I think that was a real draw card on the day along with the actual Melbourne Cup,” she said. “It was great to be able to have that level of racing here in the Wimmera. We’ll watch that series unfold with excitement knowing that it all started here in Murtoa, and it was great for a Fyans Creek trainer to win it.”
Penfold said crowd numbers were strong throughout the day with more than 1000 punters making their way through the gates. “It’s great to see the numbers back up again,” she said. “There was plenty for people to do off the track. The band put on a great show the Great Pulse Race was popular and the kids activities were really popular.”
Marketing manager Kate Kirkpatrick said being on during the Murtoa Big Weekend was a positive move. “We were on a different weekend last year and we didn’t get the same numbers,” she said.
There was also plenty of praise coming in for the condition of the track.
“It’s really great for a volunteer committee such as ours to be able to come together to put on such a great day,” Penfold said. “Everyone did a tremendous job and if I was to start thanking people we would be here a very long time. And the weather couldn’t have been much better either.”
Preusker and McKechnie started the day perfectly in race one. I’m Explosive made short work of it’s rivals in the TAC Be Race Ready 3-year-old Maiden Plate.