Linton Rides Rail to Stradbroke Handicap Win

Longshot Linton completed a scintillating rally on the rail from near last and denied pacesetter Buffering a win in the Aus$1.36 million AAMI Stradbroke Handicap (Aus-I) June 8 at Eagle Farm.

The 6-year-old gray gelding scored by three-quarters of a length under Nicholas Hall and added another  group I win for Coolmore Stud's leading sire Galileo, whose offspring have won three European classics this season.

The winner was third from last in the 18-horse field, some 20 behind at the top of the straight when a gap opened on the rail. From there, he steadily reeled in Buffering with a sustained rally and overhauled the front-runner at the 50-meter mark for a thrilling victory.

At 26-1 odds, Linton covered 1,400 meters (about seven furlongs) in 1:22.06 on turf rated as dead, earning a fourth group win and his first at the top level. He posted a second and two thirds previously in the group I category for previous owner Lloyd Williams before brothers Michael, Peter, and Martin Talty bought him after the 2011 season. 

"I walked the track earlier in the day and felt the going on the fence was as good as anywhere else," Hall told The Australian.

"It was just a matter of getting the runs at the right time and I was able to weasel my way through."

Linton entered with back-to-back wins, most recently the R. A. Lee Stakes (Aus-III) for the second straight year May 5 at Morphettville for trainer John Sadler. His record improves to seven wins, two seconds, and four thirds from 24 career starts.

After placing second or third eight times at the top level, Buffering was again denied a breakthrough group I win but held for second, a length in front of third-place finisher Streama.

Group I winner Your Song, the 5-1 favorite, was in striking distance in fourth to the home turn, but faded to finish 14th.

Bred in Australia by Standard 2080 Ltd., Linton is out of the winning Centaine mare Heather, a half sister to New Zealand group winner Balmacara.

Also on the card, Hawkspur secured Brisbane's winter carnival triple crown for 3-year-olds when winning the Aus$500,000 Channel Seven Queensland Derby (Aus-I) under a well-timed ride by veteran Jim Cassidy.

Hawkspur was slow to start and saved ground early before seizing the lead at the 300-meter mark and shaking free to a 2 1/2-length triumph over 17-1 longshot Electric Fusion. Honorius finished third, another three lengths back.

The 4-1 co-favorite with eighth-place finisher Survived, Hawkspur was timed in 2:27.89 for 2,400 meters (about 1 1/2 miles). He completed the series that began with his three-length win in the Mittys Rough Habit Plate (Aus-III) May 11 at Eagle Farm, and 2 1/4-length victory in the Mullins Lawyers Grand Prix Stakes (Aus-III) May 25 at Doomben.

Trainer Chris Waller, who notched an eighth group I win this season, credited Cassidy.

"When you have a rider like Jim Cassidy it makes a bit more relaxed going into a big race,'' he said. "He's a genius and full credit to him.  He did a great job to win the Rough Habit and Grand Prix on this horse and repeated it again today.
 
"The horse blew the start and made things awkward for himself. But Jimmy steadied him and gave him a terrific run.''

Cassidy, 50, is two wins shy of winning 100 group I races.

Australian-bred Hawkspur is the first top-level winner for Australian group III winner Purrealist, a 7-year-old son of Tale of the Cat   who stands in Victoria at Chatswood Stud. He is out of the Catbird mare Mollyhawk.

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