By Kirra Grimes
IT WAS a case of third time’s the charm for the OTI Racing syndicate on Sunday, as French horse Gallic Chieftain came from behind to take out the $75,000 Ladbrokes Stony Creek Cup in a thrilling finish.
After having two well regarded runners beaten in previous years at the Cup, the OTI team had pinned their hopes on champion trainer Darren Weir to get Gallic Chieftain up to standard, and it paid off.
The five year old horse, like his OTI predecessors, started Cup favourite, but it was the Symon Wilde-trained Floral Fever that led the 2100m feature race into the last furlongs.
Jockey Daniel Stackhouse on Gallic Chieftain started riding hard in the last 800 metres, finishing with a very strong run in the last 200 metres to relegate Floral Fever to a close second.
The Luke Oliver-trained Gilchrist ran on well for third and Fontein Lad filled the top four.
Stackhouse said the track “looked perfect” and for that he had track manager Steve Hughes to thank.
Dry, windy conditions presented a challenge for Hughes but he persevered with irrigation to deliver a consistent surface.
Stackhouse, who hails from New Zealand, also had a win on Navita in the fourth race of the day, the Welshpool Hotel Motel BM64 Handicap, and finished in the money in several other races.
Another standout jockey was Damien Thornton with wins in the Williams Tracy and Accountants 3yo Maiden Plate and the Meeniyan Hotel BM58 Handicap.
There was some drama on the day when jockey Thomas Stockdale was thrown to the ground after his mount, The Mayor, broke through the gates before the BM58 Handicap, race five. Stockdale was rushed to Traralgon hospital with multiple leg fractures and is likely to be sidelined for a significant period.
Stony Creek Racing Club president Paul O’Sullivan said despite the unfortunate accident, which caused subsequent race delays, the crowd remained in good spirits.
“We’re very happy with how it went. It was a great day, with good racing and a good crowd. The Cup was an excellent race. Gallic Chieftain is a very good horse and it was an excellent ride from Daniel Stackhouse. The close finish was very exciting,” he said.
The OTI team are hoping Gallic Chieftain will have another successful outing at the Mornington Cup on March 24.
FASHIONS on the Field judges South Gippsland Shire Deputy Mayor Aaron Brown, Sari Woods and Victoria Armstrong had a difficult task at the Stony Creek Cup on Sunday, with an array of fabulous ensembles on show.
Entrants showed there’s no need to spend a lot of money to look stylish, with many looking a million bucks in selections from stores such as Target and ASOS. Winners and runners-up from Best Dressed Lady, Best Dressed Man and Best Dressed Couple walked away with fantastic prizes from Influence on Dusk, Ladbrokes and other local businesses, and compere Casey Bruce was thoroughly impressed with the competitors’ efforts, praising best dressed couple Nicole Tuminello and Aaron Richards in particular for perfectly epitomising the relaxed, casual style of country racing.
“It was a fantastic event,” Ms Bruce said. “We had a good turnout and everyone dressed appropriately for a country race meet, which is what we like to see.”