Racing: Themightyquinn superb in Auckland Cup

By Michael Guerin

Victory takes him past the A$4.3 million mark in stakes and on track to become the richest ever standardbred in Australasia.

Ohoka Punter (6) wins the $250,000 Woodlands Stud Northern Derby at Alexandra Park last night. Photo / Dean Purcell
Ohoka Punter (6) wins the $250,000 Woodlands Stud Northern Derby at Alexandra Park last night. Photo / Dean Purcell

If you thought Themightyquinn was amazing winning last night's $250,000 Auckland Cup, a revelation from his driver Gary Hall after the great race was almost as startling.

The Perth reinsman says Themightyquinn wasn't actually at his best for last night's Cup, even though he was good enough to come from second last, sit parked for the last lap and gap the unlucky Terror To Love.

"He was actually a bit fresh," said Hall, without a hint of irony.

That is incredible because it was only five days since Themightyquinn came from last to win the Interdominion Final in Sydney, travelling to Auckland on Monday night.

That would leave most mere equines exhausted but Hall, whose father Gary senior trains Themightyquinn, says the wonder pacer was too fresh for last night's Cup.

"When I put him out in the paddock yesterday he was running around with his tail in the air," said Hall.

"He is used to being worked a lot but he had a very easy week because of the final being on Sunday and the travel.

"So he might not have been at his best tonight."

It was still good enough to add this Cup to the one he won two years ago, with three Interdominions in between.

That takes him to over A$4.3 million in stakes and on track to become the richest ever standardbred in Australasia, a title currently held by Blacks A Fake.

While he started favourite last night, the win wasn't without its nervous moments for punters as Themightyquinn got involved in some jostling between the 1600m and 1200m.

Hall soon lost interest in that and took off to sit parked, from where he always had the race under control.

He put the foot down at the 500m and put crucial real estate between himself and Terror To Love, who was trapped away on the inside.

The latter flew late but as game as he was, it was hard to take anything away from the winner, with the great mare Bettor Cover Lover a brave third.

That means the first three home all raced at Menangle's massive meeting last Sunday, with Fly Like An Eagle fourth.

The win was Themightyquinn's 48th and his 13th group one, and he looks certain to become Australasia's first A$5 million pacer as he could easily come back as good next season.

"Who knows, we might be back here next year, via another tilt at the Inters in Sydney," smiled Hall.

As remarkable as his win was, the performance of the night, and one of the best seen at Alexandra Park in recent years, came a race earlier.

That was when Ohoka Punter overcame a punishing run to hand champion filly Adore Me her first defeat in the $250,000 Woodlands Derby. The Tony Herlihy-trained and driven pacer lost an early speed duel and then had to work very hard to find himself at the lead down the back straight the last time, all of which should have left him a sitting duck for swoopers Adore Me and Franco Nelson, who had far easier runs.

Yet somehow Ohoka Punter surged clear at the top of the straight and held them at bay, a victory for strength and power and one of the great modern day Derby wins.

The win left even Herlihy stunned and suggests Ohoka Punter, if he holds together, may be the horse Herlihy has craved, a genuine superstar who has the stamina, manners and determination to be a major Cups player.

Adore Me lost few fans coming in second but showed just why it has been 38 years since a filly has won the Northern Derby.

Earlier in the night, two stars of New Zealand cricket, Kyle Mills and Brendan McCullum, had their biggest moments in racing as part-owners of Cyclone Prince, winner of the $100,000 Young Guns Final.

The two-year-old was outstanding, sitting parked to down favourite Isaiah in a great comeback win for driver Todd Mitchell, who has returned only recently from a lengthy suspension.

The night's other group two went to Angelina Jolie, taking out the $80,000 Delightful Lady Classic.


Cup night
* Themightyquinn comes from second last to win his second Auckland Cup.
* That came five days after winning the Interdominion Final in Sydney.
* Ohoka Punter recorded a stunning win in the Woodlands Derby, downing Adore Me.

- NZ Herald

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