Size sizzles at city track thanks to Whyte magic
A rare Valley double for champion trainer John Size and jockey Douglas Whyte has elevated the rider to a clear premiership lead over Brett Prebble - with Fulfil A Wish and Absolute Hedge both enjoying beautiful runs before nailing victory at the city track last night.
Size trained 75 winners last season but landed only eight at Happy Valley, and last night's double combined with some success at the city track in recent weeks is slowly correcting that imbalance.
'Fulfil A Wish was a really good effort because he had to be used up to get across from the wide gate early, had to settle and then had to show plenty of character to run down to leader,' Size said.
'He should continue to improve slowly, he's only three years old and won't go ahead in leaps and bounds, but he's still progressive and I'd expect he's got another win in him before the end of the season. The way he settled in the run and raced so tractably will be a big positive coming out of this race.'
Fulfil A Wish sprinted strongly to nail leader Our Pegasus by a short head in a driving finish to the Dundas Handicap over 1,200 metres to take his record to three wins from just five starts.
Size and Whyte parlayed that success in the final event with Absolute Hedge, who enjoyed a perfect trail behind the speed before kicking away to a 11/4-length win over Million Challenge leader Fun Rider, with a neck away to favourite Upgrading in third.
'Absolute Hedge began very well and the leader Deposer missed the kick, and that really made the race for us,' Size said. 'He's not pulling in his races these days and Douglas gave him the perfect run, if he couldn't win from there he couldn't win from anywhere.'
John Moore bagged the cup race with the speedy Chevalier King, who was rated a treat on the speed by Darren Beadman before kicking away for a comfortable 11/2-length win over Topping Light.
'We thought there might have been a couple of others vying for the lead tonight, and it wasn't our original intention to go to the front,' Moore said.
'When he and Darren jumped so well they were just able to dictate the race, he got the run he wanted and kicked on well in the straight under the big weight. He's shown he's a very good Valley horse over the short distances and next time going into class two with the lightweight I think he'll be very competitive again.'
Tony Cruz and Felix Coetzee combined with a victory aboard miracle horse El Zonda, who has put a truckload of injury quirks behind him to become a high-grade Valley sprinter.
'When El Zonda first got here he had a bone infection that was quite bad, and the vets thought they would have to put him down,' Cruz said. 'Another trick to him was that we started gluing his shoes on rather than nail them, that seems to have helped a lot. Now he is sound as a bell, and goes great around Happy Valley especially when he gets a really genuine tempo.' Coetzee was chuffed with the win, and said he simply followed Cruz's instructions and let the horse do the rest.
'Tony said he was a run-on horse and it was all pretty straightforward after that, we got the gaps at the right time and he really accelerated strongly down the straight,' Coetzee said.