The Big Opal (Charlie Studd) leads all the way in the McGregor Grant Steeplechase.
Sea King was brave but his stablemate The Big Opal proved too slick and too tough as Wanganui trainer Kevin Myers produced a quinella result in the Irvines McGregor Grant Steeplechase at Trentham today.
Back in the form that secured wins in the 2016 and 2017 Koral Steeplechases at Riccarton and last year’s Waikato Steeplechase, The Big Opal was at his fluent best around the figure-eight course. The Storm Creek gelding never put a foot wrong for first-time rider Charlie Studd and although hotly pursued by Sea King over the final 1000 metres, was able to withstand the challenge and win by a length and a half.
Sea King, carrying Topweight of 71 kilograms and conceding four kilos to his stablemate, didn’t help himself by racing keenly through the first half of the 4000-metre contest, but never stopped trying. Although unable to claim his 20th career win, second place money of $9,750 was still sufficient to take his stake-earnings past $800,000.
Studd, who partnered the Jamie Phillips-trained Zedeedudadeeko to an upset win in last year’s Great Northern Hurdles, doesn’t get many opportunities to ride for the powerful Myers stable, but he makes the most of those that do come his way. Today’s win was his third from 10 rides on a Myers-trained horse.
“It means a lot to win in these colours,” said the 39-year-old Englishman who earlier in the day finished third on the Myers hurdle debutant Blazing Opal, a half-brother to The Big Opal.
“The track really helped him, he got his way in front. He’s a lovely jumper and he gave me a great ride.”
The Myers pair left their rivals well behind as they went to battle, with the best of the remainder Shamal, finishing resolutely for third even if nearly 17 lengths from Sea King. Thenamesbond, who had been in touch throughout, was less than a length back fourth.
The notable disappointment was Great Northern winner Wise Men Say, who settled towards the rear before losing touch with the field through the final circuit and crossing then line in last place, 57 lengths from the winner.