Timely Win for Aussie Star Bentley Biscuit

Gai Waterhouse declared Bentley Biscuit the best sprinter in Australia and up with the best in the world after the 5-year-old Peintre Celebre gelding overcame a slow start to win the  Brisbane Turf Club Cup (Aus-I) at Doomben on May 12.

To win the 44th edition of the AUS$300,000 sprint, Bentley Biscuit not only retrieved the bungled start scenario to win his third group I of the fall, but achieved it at the expense of the high class Takeover Target.

Nash Rawiller has partnered the Biscuit, set for an English campaign this summer, in all three major wins, the first pair in the T.J. Smith and the All-Aged Stakes at Randwick’s major fall meeting.

Takeover Target (fifth) was among the victims in the latter Sydney race, but was underdone at his first start since defeating the Meisho Bowler-led locals in the Sprinter’s Cup (Jpn-I) at Nakayama on October 1.

That Japan triumph advanced the Celtic Swing 7-year-old’s career earnings to AUS$3.66 million. The $1,250 yearling had then won 13 races from 23 starts, including the 2006 King's Stand Stakes (Eng-II) and three Australian group I races.

A fitter Takeover Target appeared in control of the BTC Cup after Jay Ford placed him third on an solid speed set by Spark of Life — the first 600 meters in :34.51 seconds. The situation appeared more secure for the 5-2 elect with his main rival back in last place of the 10 combatants after his tardy jump. Midway through Doomben’s short stretch Takeover Target assumed the lead without too much fuss, but things started to become muddied from there.

A desperate Rawiller rode Bentley Biscuit (11-4) purely for luck from ninth over the final third of the regulation 1,200 meters. They negotiated a miraculous run through a crowded pack, two horses out from the rail in deep stretch, to nail the favorite near the finish. At the wire, judges made their margin of victory a short neck.

The 1:08.39 equaled a 5-year-old race record.

Mitanni worked home solidly to head the remainder 1 1/4 lengths away. At 7-2, the Gold Coast veteran son of Danewin, had been best backed to repel the southern invaders.

Fast 'n' Famous (13-2) was also impressive. The 4-year-old Redoute's Choice colt appeared well held under the weight-for-age conditions, but fought on gamely for fourth after holding down second for much of the race.

All of that brings us back to Waterhouse’s rather grandiose statement regarding Bentley Biscuit.

The Lorraine Smith & David Thomas bred 5-year-old certainly has achieved a great deal to win at 12 of his 18 starts in the past two years. Injury prevented the $120,000 yearling purchase racing until a late 3-year-old.

His third group I success in a row advanced earnings for Waterhouse and the London-based George Mooratoff to $1,446,725.

The best of Australia’s current sprinters?

He is 2 for 2 against Takeover Target. But despite the obvious merits of his Doomben win, he is still a long way from the achievements of his rival.

Takeover Target’s reputation was tarnished when he twice tested positive to the female hormone, hydroxyprogesterone, in Hong Kong. Officials withdrew him from the HK International Sprint (HK-I) in December.

HKJC officials are furious with the comments of Joe Janiak but have stopped short of legal action against Takeover Target’s owner-trainer.

Janiak vowed never to return to the former English colony.

“I won't be going back to Hong Kong while it's not a level playing field. They stitched us up once and we couldn't defend ourselves.”

He also referred to the apparent Triad-attempted fix with remote-controlled dart launcher found near a starting point at Happy Valley oval, suggesting the incident was “hushed-up”.

The HKJC strenuously denies the latter allegation.

William Nader, director of racing for the club, said the Happy Valley incident was still under police investigation and that it several recent press releases had been issued on the matter.

He also said the testing process on Takeover Target in Hong Kong was ‘both fair and transparent’.

Takeover Target will start in the Doomben 10,000 (Aus-I) at 1,350 meters on May 26 before heading back for another English campaign.

Bentley Biscuit will leave for England without another race. Horse of the Year candidate Miss Andretti and the also talented Magnus are other Australian sprinters chasing riches in England over the coming summer.

MEANWHILE Australian racing authorities says it will not test for HPC, despite maintaining a total drug-free policy for the past 25 years.

Andrew Harding of the Australian Racing Board was quoted in the media as saying that the hormone remains a “prohibited susbstance”, but not one “not worth testing for”.

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