Racing

Champagne Finale springs $185 jolt

Outgoing South African jockey Munger deserves applause for well-judged ride on the Logan-trained outsider

Hot favourite Sure Will Do looked set to remain unbeaten in three starts as he stepped out for Saturday's $50,000 Class 4 Division 1 event over 1,200m on turf.

The Stephen Gray-trained four-year-old New Zealand-bred was backed down to $8 for a win.

But one jockey, Ryan Munger, harboured high hopes, although his mount Champagne Finale was the $185 outsider.

The South African rider, who will be at his farewell meeting this Saturday as he has to serve a one-day suspension on the final day of the Singapore season, had done his homework.

He concluded that Sure Will Do, though unbeaten in two starts, might be vulnerable, as his winning form was not franked.

"To be honest, I thought the favourite would face his toughest race today," said Munger.

"He was giving my horse weight and, the last time he won, the second horse was Day Approach, who was disappointing at his next race. So, the last formline was not so strong.

"I also knew he would have to come from around me to lead this time. I was able to track him up and it has worked out beautifully for us.

"When I saw Pattaya out three wide, the two horses I had to worry about were in my sights. When the field split open, I had the gaps to go through and he was too good."

The race sure panned out well for Munger.

Sure Will Do, ridden by champion apprentice jockey Simon Kok, who was aboard in the gelding's two wins, was in his customary leader's role.

But, unlike his first two wins, he had to burn a bit more petrol from his wider alley (No. 9).

On the other hand, Munger was able to settle Champagne Finale, who drew better in Gate 4, in the box-seat and bided his time.

Pattaya, with champion jockey Vlad Duric astride, was coming around his outside.

Into the straight, on the rain-affected track, Sure Will Do spun out to be the first to wave at the judge. But he was soon paddling and certainly not travelling like an odds-on favourite should.

Munger did not waste a second the moment he picked up the signals of distress. He quickly angled Champagne Finale out for his run.

Pattaya also joined in the fray.

With 250m left, the charmed run began to finalise - the gap between Sure Will Do and Pattaya.

Carrying only 51kg and 4kg less than Sure Will Do, Champagne Finale went through the gap easily to score by 3/4 lengths.

Pattaya beat Sure Will Do by half a length for second.

The winning time was 1min 10.82sec on the Short Course E.

Winning trainer Donna Logan said she was actually worried when the rain came, as Champagne Finale prefers to race on top of the ground.

"I was concerned when the rain came, but because it was the first race that would have a wet track, we got away with it," said the Kiwi handler.

"At his last race, he went well and it's good to see he's gone well again. But, as his odds would tell you, we weren't exactly confident of a win today."

Champagne Finale has scored four times from 23 starts, taking his prize money to about $95,000 for Eden Park Racing Stable.

Though a little downcast after the race, Gray had already put a line through Sure Will Do's run.

"He didn't handle the track. He'll go for a break and he'll bounce back," he said.

It was not a memorable day for Gray. His other top fancy, Heavenly Dancer (Duric) was also beaten.

He outran all but the Mark Walker-trained $46 shot Silent Partner (apprentice jockey Hakim Kamaruddin) in the $50,000 Class 4 Division 2 race over 1,200m on turf.

HORSE RACING