Ballarat Cup 2020: Irish Flame continues to be revelation for Mornington trainer Brett Scott
Brett Scott taught Michael Walker how to ride in New Zealand many moons ago and on Saturday the gun jockey repaid his former mentor with victory on Irish Flame in the Listed Ballarat Cup.
Former Kiwi gelding Irish Flame has been a revelation since joining Scott at Mornington, with three wins and four placings in eight Australian starts.
Despite being posted wide, Walker allowed Irish Flame to bowl along behind the speed, being set by Our Big Mike and Inverloch, which the gritty gelding appreciated.
“The horse had a hard run but I wasn’t worried because they only went steady so I was happy where I was,” Walker said.
“If he found the line, he had three lengths on them but he just won’t run away from them.
“I got there too early but he fought on.”
Ballarat local and pre-race favourite Affair To Remember put in a huge run, weaving through the field to claim second ahead of from Game Keeper.
Irish Flame proves too strong in a thrilling finish to the Ballarat Cup.Source:Getty Images
Second favourite Junipal looked to get every chance entering the straight but failed to finish off.
In stark contrast, Double You Tee, who was runner-up in the Ballarat Cup last year, sustained a huge run down the middle of the track to finish sixth, only half a length from Irish Flame.
Walker has formed a nice association with former jumps jockey-turned-trainer Scott, combining for nine wins and seven placings from only 47 starts.
The cup win could be a shot in the arm for Walker, who battled for consistency and opportunity in the spring despite a positive start to the carnival.
“I think my strike rate is one of the best around,” Walker said. “I’m riding better than I ever have.
Irish Flame and Michael Walker sneak home in a close finish.Source:Getty Images
“I’m happy, I’m strong, I’m fit. My weight is good. I’ve got to provide for my three kids and my partner, Lauren. I’m the rock of the family. I want to make them proud.”
Scott lauded the way Irish Flame stuck to his task despite not having any “favours” in the run.
“He was three-deep without cover for pretty much the whole trip,” Scott said.
“He came off the bridle just before the corner and I thought we might be in a bit of trouble but he hung tough.
“He was a handy horse (in New Zealand) … since he’s been in Melbourne every race has been good.
“He’s improved with every run and he’s a good, tough stayer.”
Brett Scott with Irish Flame and Ballarat officials after his big victory.Source:Getty Images
A late and steady market drift before the first was a sign of distress, then hot pot The Gauch confirmed the punters’ panic coming off the bridle before the straight.
The easing $2 fancy looked to have every chance in the run but as soon as the pressure came the Deep Field horse folded quickly.
Co-trainer David Eustace said The Gauch would be spelled, with stewards later confirming the horse pulled up with a lame near fore leg.
Blandford Lad and Jye McNeil combine to win the Global Turf BM78 Handicap.Source:Getty Images
JYE JUMPS EARLY
The confidence gained from winning a Melbourne Cup was on show in Jye McNeil’s winning ride on Blandford Lad in the Global Turf Handicap (2600m).
McNeil landed Australian racing’s greatest pride with his frontrunning display on Twilight Payment at Flemington but an equally bold ride got Blandford Lad home for trainer Peter Gelagotis at Ballarat.
McNeil took off a long way from home before Blandford Lad ($9) toughed it out late, holding off the fast-finishing Reflect The Stars ($6) while outside Red Alto ($34) ran an improved race for third.
“I was in a bad position from a slow get away but I saw an opportunity and took it at about the 600(m) and he outstayed them,” McNeil said.
PRICE: PRINCE NOT QUITE A MAN YET
Mick Price is likely to spell Prince among Men over a Gold Coast Magic Millions campaign despite a gutsy effort at Ballarat.
The Winning Rupert two year-old tried hard but could not quite get the better of Readily Availabull in a tight finish.
“If I take him up there I’m taking up a horse that’s on the way down,“ Price said.
“If he was to run in a Blue Diamond he’d have to go to the paddock and improve.
“I don’t think I’ve got enough horse left to keep going.
“The petrol tank might be nearly empty.”
Readily Availabull, ridden by Michael Dee, takes out the Magic Millions 2YO Clockwise Classic.Source:Getty Images
PRICE RUES MISSED BLOWOUT CHANCE
Enigman wasn’t popular with punters but apprentice Will Price rued a missed opportunity when the gelding finished an unlucky third in the Hertz Ballarat Tonks Plate (1200m).
Enigman started $23 at his first run back at Ciaron Maher and David Eustace’s stable after three starts in Adelaide for Will Clarken before the gelding headed to Darwin for three runs for horseman Gary Clarke.
Enigman got back in the field but Price was left with nowhere to go when the horse was held up early in the straight.
The seven-year-old raced tight at the 200m before the sprinter charged home to finish a length from the winner Excess Funds.
Price’s head shake shortly after the post said it all.
Favourites had a nightmare at Ballarat and the punters’ top picks also struggled at the Tatura Cup meeting.
The last favourite, the Neil Dyer-trained Bolek, was the only favourite to win on a day the bookmakers must dream about.
Two odds-on shots were rolled while the $2.35 favourite Reserve Street ran last behind the $3.20 second favourite Midships in the Tatura Cup.
Jockey Beau Mertens guided Midships to a comfortable win over fellow Mornington-trained runner Monsieur Macron.
SWAN HILL RESCHEDULED
Racing Victoria has moved the Swan Hill race meeting to Wednesday due to the extreme 41C forecast for Sunday.
The program for the abandoned meeting will remain unchanged, but all horses will need to renominate.
“If he goes I’m going with him. I’m closer to him than his wife. I hope she’s not listening. She might say ‘here, take him!’.”
Lindsey Smith on his association with syndicator Brad Spicer
Finishes 7th … Still wins!
Horse Racing: A staggering eight horses were disqualified in one race at Fontwell over the weekend, leaving Dharma Rain as the winner as the only horse deemed to have finished.
Originally published asWalker, Scott combine to Flame Cup fancies
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