Imported stayer Bonfire led from start to finish to record his maiden Australian race win in the 2015 Grafton Cup this afternoon.
Bonfire was well-backed in the lead-up to the Grafton Cup and punters were happy when jockey Blake Shinn was able to find the fence very easily from the wide draw to take up the running.
The Dante Stakes winner looked like a sitting duck when Winter Cup winner Kapour and Gerald Ryan-trained Shoreham loomed on the outside, but Bonfire fought back when asked for an extra effort to deliver trainer Gai Waterhouse her second straight win in the Grafton Cup.
Waterhouse has had a big opinion of Bonfire since he finished in the placings in the Listed Premier’s Cup (1800m) and Group 3 Naturalism Stakes (2000m) during the 2014 Spring Racing Carnival and stable representative Dave Meijer believes that the Manduro gelding may be able to go to another level following his Grafton Cup victory.
“That was pretty to watch,” Meijer said.
“Once he crossed and was able to control the race it was very pretty to watch and it was pretty stock-standard Gai stuff.
“The plan was just to run them into the ground and it was an outstanding ride from Blake.
“He is pretty untapped and now that he has had that win he should be able to go on with it.
“He has been pretty quirky and the boss has done really well to get the best out of this horse and she has always thought that once he blows a field away the penny will drop and he will go on with it
“He is a really exciting staying prospect.”
Shinn is currently locked in a heated battle for the Sydney Premiership with Hugh Bowman and James McDonald, but he was still thrilled to be able to get the job done on Bonfire in the 2015 Grafton Cup.
The leading hoop was quick to pay credit to the training performance of Waterhouse and he said that he was impressed with the way that Bonfire travelled in the run as well as his strong, sustained sectionals.
“It is very special,” Waterhouse said.
“This is what racing is all about and it is great that people can get here and get behind it.
“I really enjoy whether it is Grafton, Scone and I enjoy going to all these Carnivals.
“It was a great win, he had 59 kilograms and he did it from both ends.
“Kapour challenged strongly, but the determination and the bone and muscle that Gai has instilled in this horse is great.
“Gai’s horses can sustain good sectionals and if I was going to restrain him any slower than he would have been fighting me a little bit.
“He did a great job and I feel the best horse won.”
Bonfire is likely to campaign in Sydney during the 2015 Spring Racing Carnival and he could be set for a race like the Group 1 The Metropolitan (2400m).