Veteran trainer’s teary Cup win snatches piece of history
RECORDS as they say, are made to be broken but every now and then one is set that is either so unusual or of such a high calibre that it seems unlikely to ever be erased from the record books.
One such record was set at Doomben a week ago when the long-priced Jetset Lad pushed his nose down on the line in a highly pressurised finish to claim the Group 2 Brisbane Cup in a three-way photo finish.
Trainer Brian Smith, who enjoys every win, was overjoyed with this particular success. There was a touch of a tear in his eyes as he celebrated a striking success on Queensland's biggest race-day but, away from the jubilation, the result was already being filed in the record books with this particular entry making history of the noteworthy kind in that it reflected the setting of a record that is never likely to be surpassed.
You see Brian Smith had won the Brisbane Cup before. Nothing dramatic in that in itself, but there is when you drill down for more information ... but you do have to go back a bit in time to make that discovery.
You have to go back to 1976 in the Brisbane Cup's roll of honour to find the name of Balmerino with the name of the trainer, one B J Smith, next to it in the record books.
That means the Smith-trained winners of the Brisbane Cup came 39 years apart.
Amazing. Now who on earth is ever going to beat that record!
The mighty T J Smith won the same race no less than six times over a 28-year period, starting with Redcraze in 1956 and finishing with Chiamare in 1984 but B J Smith was very happy creating his own piece of history.
And he would have had very happy memories of his first Brisbane Cup winner Balmerino, who was an absolute champion.
Balmerino won no less than 21 of his 42 starts. As a three-year-old he won 14 out of 16 starts, which included a sequence of eight straight wins.
Apart from his 21 career victories Balmerino also finished second or third on a further 13 occasions, most notably when finishing second in the 1977 Longchamps Arc de Triomphe, just 17 months after his Brisbane Cup victory.
During those 17 months Balmerino also raced in England, Italy and the USA (where he finished fifth in the Washington International).
A notation on the New Zealand Racing Hall Of Fame website reads, 'Bred and raced by Waikato dairy farmer Ralph Stuart, who had bred very successfully from the family previously, Balmerino was by Trictrac from the grand broodmare Dulcie. Stuart usually sold his colts; the elderly farmer was persuaded by brash young trainer Brian Smith to keep Balmerino after Smith won five races with older half-sister Mia Bella,' ... and the rest as they say is history.
'Brash young trainer' indeed, now still winning Group races in his seventies and clearly enjoying it as much as he ever did!
While it might not pay to dwell too long on the past, sometimes it does make a good story.
*Graham Potter is the Managing Editor of the popular horseracingonly.com.au