Gladstone Cup Winner Afleet Boy, ridden by Renee Henricks, at the Gladstone Turf Club.
Gladstone Cup Winner Afleet Boy, ridden by Renee Henricks, at the Gladstone Turf Club. Brenda Strong

Wilson bows out

OFFICIALS were lost for words after what was described as the biggest crowd ever seen at Ferguson Park racecourse turned out for Saturday’s Veolia Environmental Services Gladstone Cup.

Retiring Gladstone race caller Dan Saville put the crowd into perspective, giving credibility to the official account when he said: “In all my 32 years associated with Gladstone racing, I have never seen a crowd like this at Ferguson Park.”

Estimated at about 2000 people, the crowd was not let down, as there was theatre and excitement aplenty throughout the afternoon. It reached a crescendo when iconic broadcaster Wayne Wilson produced a sparkling call of Afleet Boy winning the $15,000 Veolia Environmental Services Gladstone Cup (1608m).

Wilson called his first race at Gladstone 50 years ago and although bowing out as Brisbane race caller the previous Saturday, he honoured a promise to the Gladstone Turf Club to retire from race calling where it all started.

Wilson correctly called the Gary Teal Gatton-trained Afleet Boy (Renee Henricks, $12) beating Tantat Secret (Adrian Coome, $5.50), with Seekawinner (Kazuki Mizobe, $5.50) charging home on the outside to make the finish more intense.

As it turned out, Afleet Boy won by a long neck but as his near side saddle cloth had flapped-up, judges were unable to read his designated number of seven, which brought about a lengthy delay as they checked the computerised images of the race finish.

“Boy, I was really starting to worry as the delay went on. I thought surely I have got the finish right, as there looked to be a clear margin,” Wilson said.

The win of Afleet Boy was a timely boost for his stallion, the under-rated Afleetaffair (Can), who stands at a bargain stud fee at Merlo Downs, Kabra.

For trainer Teal, who races the horse on lease from Harold and Betty Powell from Southbrook, the Gladstone Cup win meant a lot.

“My father trained the winner of the 1965 Gladstone Cup in Flicked Diamond. I’ve always wanted to emulate that. I ran second in the cup with Yossawin a few years back,” Teal said.

Afleet Boy has always displayed a propensity to handle sand and dirt tracks. He has won at Wondai and was placed at Birdsville and Bedourie during a western excursion in 2008.

Teal is considering a Birdsville Cup start for the eight-year-old in three weeks, while the $15,250 Thangool Cup (1600m) on September 11 is also on the cards.

More than likely the Gladstone Cup runner-up, the Jason Brown-trained Tantat Secret, will chase the Thangool Cup. Tantat Secret was courageous in defeat under 60.5kg and will strip much fitter at Thangool.

Earlier, O’Shea-trained Snorkel (Luke Dillon, $5.00) scored a runaway 3.3 lengths win over Frenardi(New Zealand, Ian Coombes, $5.50) and Columate (Trinity Bannon, $3.50), with $2.50 favourite Ready Royal (John Stephens) fourth in the $12,000 Len Smith Carpet Court Gladstone Newmarket (1194m).

Hot Flushes and Boofhead filled the quinella in the Class 3 Plate (1517m).Ridden intelligently by Matthew Cant, Hot Flushes ($2.70) beat Boofhead (Renee Hinricks, $11.00) by 2.3 lengths, with Kalman (Adrian Coome, $4.40) rallying late for third.

Gracemere trainer Alan Jones had a good day, with Jaydeeandcoke (Trinity Bannon, $3.00) winning the Maiden (1000m).

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