It took some fancy footwork from Kathy O’Hara to achieve the win but Godolphin’s Ranier finally won the $160,000, Group 3 Iron Jack Festival Stakes (1500m) at Rosehill on Saturday.
Ranier and Kathy O'Hara with Live And Free (NZ) and Brenton Avdulla inside, picture Sports.com.au
The four-year-old Lonhro gelding had missed a start in the field for The Gong at Kembla Grange last Saturday but slipped into the Festival Stakes with a handy 53kg, even if not racing for a share of $1 million. Coming off a narrow second over 1600m in a Benchmark 90 at Flemington on November 9th he was ready to strike, but 150m from home that was not looking likely.
O’Hara had used barrier one well and she and Ranier were in fourth in the rails as Renewal (57.5kg) and Tommy Berry led to the field into the main straight.
However, there was little room ahead with Invincible Gem (59kg) and Rachel King outside Renewal and O’Hara and Ranier had to go searching for racing room. First O’Hara eased Ranier off the heels of Renewal, but the road ahead was still not clear so secondly she had to do the same around the back of Invincible Gem.
Meanwhile Brenton Avdulla had sent Live And Free (NZ) (53kg) down the rails and they were away and looking literally a live chance of taking the race. Finally O’Hara had Ranier out in the middle of the track and they extended after the leader inside them. It took until the final stride but Ranier, with his tongue out the side, reached Live And Free and he secured the half-head victory.
Live And Free (Savabeel) and Avdulla were 1 3/4L ahead of Cellarman (Mossman) (59kg) and Hugh Bowman in third. Invincible Gem was fourth.
The time was 1.29.46 on the Good 4 track with the final 600m in 35.06. Ranier paid $6.00 on fixed odds and $5.70 on the tote.
Ranier, out of the Commands mare Kanzan, won the Group 3 Carbine Cup Stakes over 1600m at Flemington last season, but could not maintain that form until this spring when he won a Benchmark 88 over 1400m at Rosehill on September 28th.
The win took his record to four wins and seven placings from 20 starts and stakes earnings of $481,120.
Spending To Win and Tim Clark ahead of Glenall and Josh Parr, picture Sportpix.com.au
The $140,000, listed Drinkwise Starlight Stakes (1100m) was won by the Snowden trained Spending To Win after a typically efficient Tim Clark front running ride.
The six-year-year-old Snitzel gelding was starting from the first time since July and he had not saluted the judge since September 2018 when winning over 1100m at Caulfield.
Not surprisingly punters might have needed drinkwise refresher when Clark managed to get Spending To Win, with 54.5kg, to just last over Glenall (Redoute’s Choice) (57kg) and Josh Parr with Handle The Truth (Star Witness) (55kg) and Nash Rawiller.
Spending To Win paid $34.00 on fixed odds and $28.20 on the tote. The margins were a long head and neck with the time 1.04.20 and the final 600m in 34.10.
Starlight Stakes, photo finish pictures ATC
The G3 Festival Stakes @rosehillgardens @atc_races goes to Ranier, but only just! The @godolphin blue just pipped Live and Free on the line for @JamesCummings88 and @Kathy_ohara! pic.twitter.com/1YdWwPZ63x— Sky Racing (@SkyRacingAU) November 30, 2019