Earlier this year the silks of Denise Martin, a well known, much loved and highly successful buyer and syndicator of racehorses, were made famous with the two group 1 wins by champion 2-year-old Sebring.
On Oct. 4 at Royal Randwick in Sydney, those same purple with white stars where on display again – this time in the group 1 $600,000 Epsom Handicap over a mile.
In fact, two sets of Martin’s colors were being sported in the race.
The main set, carrying the white cap to differentiate, was worn by Theseo (Danewin-Ozone Stand) a tough galloper of considerable talent who was runner up over the same mile course in a group 1 race last start carrying 133 pounds. In Saturday’s big handicap, he was carrying just 118 pounds – but to offset this, he had drawn barrier 18 in the field of 18. Punters liked him though and he was sent out a $10 chance.
Bank Robber (Dash For Cash-Saliah) the winner of five of his seven starts to date was carrying just one pound more than his stablemate and was highly fancied to win the race at $7.50. He had the same colors, but had the purple cap on.
Both are trained by leading trainer Gai Waterhouse.
As they turned for home with two furlongs left to race, Bank Robber who had been with the leading trio from the get go and with in form hoop Peter Robl aboard, dashed clear and put three lengths on the field. Only one horse emerged from the pack to offer a chase – and it was Theseo. Relishing the drop in weight from his last outing in this grade, Theseo with Zac Purton on top urging him with tremendous gusto, slowly but surely ate into the lead. Inch by inch, he pegged back Bank Robber – the rest of the field was four lengths behind making no headway. Theseo eventually grabbed his more fancied stablemate with 75 yards to travel, poked his nose in front and landed the chocolates taking his purse earnings to Aus$994, 600 (US$930,000). The 5-year-old gelding now has won five from 22 starts with six minor placings.
Bank Robber, who was racing group 1 company for the first time, was as gallant as a beaten horse could be. At just four and with the least amount of races under his belt, he looked the winner every stride bar the line.
The 5-year-old mare Gallant Tess (Galileo-Dragoncello), the veteran of 22 starts, plugged on strongly to grab third a few lengths further back. She has been the model of consistency since she began racing as a juvenile. Makybe Diva’s little brother Musket, who from eight starts to date hadn’t missed a place, traveled near the rear of the big field throughout, spotting Bank Robber a lead of 19 lengths with two furlongs to go, was held up for a run as they straightened, but he sprouted wings to grab 5th suggesting he is a real star of the future. He was just five lengths from the winner when the judge halted proceedings.
But it was Martin and Waterhouse’s day, with a special mention to jockey Purton also. He was on a hit and run mission from Hong Kong where he has been riding with great success for the last 18 months. “It’s a massive thrill to win a group one for Gai and Denise,” Purton said. “I had a bit to do with this bloke as a young horse, I won the Dulcify Handicap on him I think, and it’s great to get back aboard him and win a real big race with him.
“We always thought he would furnish into something pretty good and it looks as though he has.”
Purton knew he had no option but to take advantage of the horse’s light handicap and use him up from the outside alley early in order to gain a good position. So he did. He rode him up toward the lead from barrier rise and was fourth turning for home.
“I was a bit concerned at the turn as he seemed to lose ground for a moment or two and the other horse (Bank Robber) was motoring up the straight gaining a huge lead, but he balanced up and proved too tough,” Waterhouse added.
“He put the writing on the wall last Saturday when second in the George Main and he dropped a lot of weight today. Both my horses ran very well and hopefully we can get the same result in the Doncaster Handicap in the autumn.”
The favorite Raheeb, owned by Patinack Farm and as a result was that new entitie’s first group 1 runner, struggled in the run home and weakened out of the race to finish 13th.