Copacabana fends off Justice Light
Photo-finish shows winner just a nose in front of $129 outsider
It wasn't a top card, just nine yet-to-win runners in the Restricted Maiden event in Race 2 at Kranji last night.
But what a thriller it turned out to be. No fewer than six horses were fanned across the track shortly after straightening in the rush for the prize money.
Although it was down to just two horses with only 150m to go, the excitement and suspense did not end there. The surviving pair fought hammer and tongs to the line, with the Cliff Brown-trained $25 chance COPACABANA edging out the Mark Walker-trained $129 outsider Justice Light by the narrowest of margins - a nose.
Fading to third was the $12 favourite and the winner's stablemate, Athena, who was one-and-a-half lengths behind.
Athena, who was resuming from a seven-and-a-half-month spell, went in with the best form with two seconds, a Group 2 third and a Group 3 fourth from as many starts.
Copacabana, on the other hand, was unplaced in three earlier starts. He, too, was back from a break, having had his last run on Aug 27 last year.
The rest certainly did both Brown's horses good.
After the off, Athena disputed the lead with Optimum Star and Commando Eclipse. Jockey Michael Rodd parked Copacabana fourth, a length behind.
As they settled down, Optimum Star and Commando Eclipse led by two lengths from Athena. Then came Copacabana. Justice Light was shuffled back sightly. That probably cost him the race.
The two leaders led into the straight, albeit a bit wide. Athena pounced with the big gap in front. The filly hit the front at the 350m mark but was quickly "under siege", as described by racecaller Thomas Wood.
She was flanked by Justice Light and Copacabana on her inside and Lim's Pershing, who was well suported at $25 first-up, Optimum Star and Commando Eclipse on her outside.
With 250m left to run, Lim's Pershing, Optimum Star and Commando Eclipse, the $22 second-favourite, said sayonara.
Then it was Athena's turn to wave goodbye at the 150m mark, leaving stablemate Copacabana and Justice Light to settle the issue in a titanic battle to the winning post. Oh, what a thriller.