The Chris Munce trained First Crush was able to win the 2018 Listed $160,000 G McMullan Contracting Grafton Cup (2350m) at Grafton today at his second attempt.
Munce took First Crush to Grafton for the Cup twelve months ago but the then five year old finished well down the track when ninth to Supply And Demand.
The former champion jockey vowed to return to the Northern Rivers this year to seek revenge and the in-form First Crush ($4.20) proved too strong for his opposition in securing a length win over the $101 outsider Winkler with the $3.50 favourite Reneged in third spot.
First Crush arrived at Grafton with two runner’s up cheque in the bank from his last two starts after finishing second in the Listed $175,000 Channel 7 Ipswich Cup (2150m) at Ipswich on June 16 and second in the Listed $175,000 Scott McMahon Electrical Caloundra Cup (2400m) at the Sunshine Coast on June 30.
First Crush also finished third in the $100,000 Toowoomba Cup (2000m) on April 7 in the lead up to the Grafton Cup and Munce told owner Max Whitby that the Grafton Cup was on the radar.
“After he ran third at Toowoomba I said to Max that I would win the Grafton Cup for him and I had a little plan that I thought I was hoping it would come off and I am glad it has today. It is terrific,” Munce said.
But things didn’t look to be going to plan during the run with jockey Mark Du Plessis unable to position First Crush any closer than three wide for the entire trip and eventually being pushed six and seven horses wide on the home turn.
Munce said that he was not feeling very confident mid race but First Crush proceeded to be the strongest stayer on the day and surged down the middle of the track to record a strong win.
“I was nearly going to walk back to the horse stalls because I was that cranky, but anyway it all panned out well,” Munce said.
“Credit to Mark, he knew what he was doing, I didn’t know what he was doing, but he knew what he was doing.”
“I am just so pleased and generally happy that I could win for Max.”
As well as training First Crush to win today’s Grafton Cup, Munce also collected the winning trophy as a jockey on Count Scenario in 1999 and on Storm Hill in 2005.