Blaze To Fortune wins mighty tussle with Liberty Tycoon
GLADSTONE racing's most consistent and versatile galloper Blaze To Fortune was at his fighting best when winning the $6000 Benchmark 75 Handicap (1194m) at Ferguson Park racecourse on Saturday.
Ridden by apprentice jockey Kelly Gates, the Dennis Schulz-trained Blaze To Fortune ($2.60) and Clint Garland's Liberty Tycoon (Nathan Patchett, $2.70) contested the lead for virtually the entire race.
Both led at different stages, but Blaze To Fortune dug the deepest to win by a long head.
He ran one minute, 11.62 sec, less than 0.5sec outside the long-standing race record by Mannerasca of 1:11.2s.
However, when the Ivan Walker-trained Mannerasca (Fran Moreland) registered that record time at Ferguson Park on September 2, 1989, he only carried 52kg.
What time would Blaze To Fortune have run on Saturday had he been carrying that weight and not 7.5kg more?
Schultz has done a superb job with Blaze To Fortune by turning out the six-year-old gelding to run competitively and rewardingly at almost every race he contests.
A winner from 1000 metres to 1600 metres, Blaze To Fortune has only raced three times on his home track at Gladstone for two wins and a third.
Bundaberg trainer Darryl Gardiner, a prolific winner, enhanced his lead in the Gladstone trainers' premiership when he legged-up jockey Shane McGovern to win the Class B (1194m) on Gorilla's Mast ($3.50).
It was the Elvstrom gelding's first run in Queensland since being sold from Victoria and the hulking horse has the scope to win in Rockhampton this campaign.
It was a welcome return to the wining list for McGovern who has lost 10kg in recent months to reignite his career after recuperating from injuries suffered in a traffic accident.
Longreach owner Peter Fickling made the long trip to Gladstone to see his track specialist Rare Find ($3.90) score a courageous win in the Class 3 (1000m).
Trained by Clint Garland and ridden aggressively by Nathan Patchett out of barrier 10, Rare Find virtually grows another leg on the sand at Ferguson Park.
"There's another nice race for him at Gladstone's next meeting on March 30", Garland said.
Fickling dashed from the track after the win to witness his grandson compete in some swimming championships in the Harbour City.
The afternoon's easiest wins were scored by the Alan Jones trained Kinky Days (Carly-Mae Pye, $2.50) and Margaret Berry's Bundaberg mare Tigerlicious (Alannah Badger, $3.00).
Kinky Days won the Maiden (11194m) by four lengths while Tigerlicious romped home by 10.75 lengths in the Class B (1517m).
The Gladstone Turf Club is gearing for the annual Easter meeting on March 30, which features the $10,000 Greg McCann Memorial Open (1194m).