Cheerine Champion

PUBLISHED : Monday, 27 April, 1998, 12:00am
UPDATED : Monday, 27 April, 1998, 12:00am

Raging favourite Cheerine Champion yesterday annihilated his rivals to run clean away with the $1.8 million Emperor Group Macau Derby, writes Lawrence Wadey.

The Dan Murphy-trained gelding cruised clear of the field from the 400-metre marker under Brent Thomson to win eased down from outsider Hunting Way and initiate a brilliant treble for Thomson.

The Uncle Bill Tung-trained Freyburg appreciated the rain-affected track to stay on gamely for third position.

Cheerine Champion, in the van of a $13 million bloodstock investment made by owner Wong Wai-kai which included the purchase of the historic 14-acre Friarstown Stud at The Curragh, in Ireland, was backed down to 1.4-1.

He and Thomson never gave their supporters a moment's worry and returned to huge cheers from the Taipa crowd.

Murphy said: 'Without meaning to sound too blase, he's only won how he was entitled to at the ratings.

'He was clearly the form pick in the race and it was just a question of making sure he stayed out of trouble.

'Brent followed the game plan we'd mapped out and when he moved up at about the 600-metre marker, I knew we had the race shot to pieces.' Murphy added: 'The result is great for racing here as Mr Wong loves the sport and has made a major investment to bring in some of the best-bred European horses.

'Cheerine Champion is one of the first but he won't be the last and I'd like to think there's plenty of others on the way.' Trinidadian jockey Anthony Stephen gave Hunting Way every possible chance but his mount was never going to peg back Cheerine Champion.

Freyburg, under champion jockey John Didham, saved every inch of ground on the inside en route to third.

Thomson went on to score on Gordon Benson's exciting griffin Belongs To Me in the seventh and Eric Suen's Renown, on whom blinkers made all the difference, in the ninth.


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