Clearly Innocent has been crowned the 2017 Darley Kingsford-Smith Cup winner at Eagle Farm this afternoon after producing a massive turn of foot late to beat a brave Jungle Edge.
Jumping from the gates well, the Not A Single Doubt gelding took an ideal position in transit within the Kingsford-Smith Cup field as Jungle Edge, Music Magnate and Japonisme dictated the early terms across the back straight.
Jockey Hugh Bowman pulled Clearly Innocent into space upon arriving on the final straight, but allowed the horse plenty of time to balance before asking for an extra effort.
Immediately responding when he was asked for an extra effort, Clearly Innocent appeared as though he would have just a bit too much work to catch a runaway Jungle Edge, but his turn of foot proved the difference and he caught the veteran sprinter with more than 100m to travel.
After receiving the greatest share of attention in Darley Kingsford-Smith Cup betting markets prior to jump, Counterattack boxed on to finish third, albeit more than eight lengths away from Clearly Innocent.
Bowman delivered a gem of a performance aboard Clearly Innocent to be named the Darley Kingsford-Smith Cup winner and is confident that the horse will prove extremely tough to beat in the Group 1 Stradbroke Handicap (1400m) in a fortnight.
“Unbelievable – he gave me such a great feel at Scone but as I said before the race, there was a query in the class rise,” Bowman said after winning the race.
“I knew he had it in him whether it was today or in the future, but he is a really impressive horse.
“The horse is now with Kris Lees and he has done a tremendous effort since taking over the management of the horse. Congratulations to all involved.
“I wanted to be closer, but I didn’t want to push him out of his comfort zone and I just rode him where he was happy, and his class shone through.
“(The Stradbroke) is looking pretty good after that performance.”
Kris Lees was thrilled with Clearly Innocent’s performance to win the Darley Kingsford-Smith Cup and he was quick to lay the praise on the horse, Bowman and the efforts of former trainer Greg Bennett.
“It’s as much Greg Bennett’s win today, he’s here today and hopefully he got as much of a kick out of it as we did,” Lees said.
“He was very well looked after in the early stages of his career and I’m the one now getting the benefits of that.
“He’s doing a great job. He improved off his Scone run, but going from a Listed race to weight-for-age was a concern.
“He’s certainly relished it and I think he’ll acquit himself well here in a fortnight.”
In being crowned the 2017 Darley Kingsford-Smith Cup winner, Clearly Innocent has extended his career record to an impressive nine wins and one minor from only fifteen starts.