Gai Waterhouse quinellaed the 2012 $2m Magic Millions Classic (1200m) but had to sit out a sensational protest before knowing which set of connections would celebrate.
The Sydney trainer’s ‘second stringer’ No Looking Back (jockey Nash Rawiller) squeezed up the rail to past the post narrowly in front of race favourite Driefontein (jockey Tom Berry) with Alezan Thunder third.
But Racing Queensland stewards had the last controversial say.
Berry requested to view the footage of the final 250m as soon as he dismounted.
No Looking Back had finished best and Berry was happy enough to let the decision stand, he originally said he would not protest.
Racing Queensland’s chief steward Wade Birch indicated to the hoop that interference did take place and Berry,flustered, changed his mind.
Berry then lodged the protest citing interference over the final 200m.
Berry told stewards No Looking Back’s shift out left Driefontein “quite unbalanced” as Driefontein fought back in the final 100 metres of the race.
“You could see mine was coming back,” Berry said.
“She (No Looking Back) got half a length on me and I have only been beaten a neck on the line.
“I would have won by at least a head.”
Stewards later said if Berry wouldn’t have protested, they would have.
Rawiller stated that his horse was able to rail when Driefontein drifted off the fence early in the straight but admitted No Looking Back drifted off the fence at the 70m mark taking Driefontein’s running.
Stewards deliberated for a short time and upheld the protest.
“It’s our belief that had Driefontein been able to maintain her rightful running she would have won the race and therefore we uphold the protest,” Birch said.
Berry admitted the victory was bittersweet.
“It hasn’t really sunk in yet but when it does I’ll be elated,” he said.
“Nash has become one of my best mates since I started to ride for Gai and to beat him on protest in such a big race doesn’t seem right.
“The filly always traveled strongly although she did get a bit lost getting around the corner.
“She definitely deserved to win the race and the stewards’ decision was the right one.”
Waterhouse diplomatically remained silent during the hearing before officially winning her fourth Magic Millions Classic.
The champion trainer had previous won the race with Assertive Lad (2000), Excellerator (2001) and Dance Hero (2004).
Driefontein by Fastnet Rock and Follow Gold was a cheap purchased for $75,000 by Star Thoroughbreds – headed by Denise Martin.
With Waterhouse, Star Thoroughbreds have had huge success with Sebring, Theseo and now Driefontein at the head of a long list.
No Looking Back had its own Classic history.
She is by Redoute’s Choice out of 2006 Classic winner Mirror Mirror and cost $500,000 at last year’s Magic Millions main sale.
“Outstanding two fillies,” Waterhouse said.
“There is nothing much between the winner and the second horse.
“They really had to slog it out.”
Waterhouse is aiming at the Golden Slipper with both fillies.
“It will be like Cinderella, one on each foot,” she said.
Waterhouse described a big race win like another new love “everytime it is better.”
The horses that filled the top three positions on settling in the Classic, fought out the finish.
Driefontein took it up from Alezan Thunder and No Looking Back third on the fence.
Berry was able to get away with a slow pace and deserved the win on that alone.
Rounding the turn Snipzu, after racing wide, moved up to join the leaders.
The two leaders then sprinted and on straightening and Snipzu dropped off as did the strongly backed Amorino who had settled fourth.
Driefontein drifted off the fence and held a neck advantage over both Alezan Thunder and No Looking Back at the 200m mark.
No Looking Back inched to front as Alezan Thunder inched backwards over the final 200m.
The win gave Berry consecutive Classic wins having piloted home Karuta Queen to victory last year – Rawiller remains winless in the race.
Both Sizzling (fourth) and Mrs Gray (fifth) did well to finish close-up after settling worse than midfield.
Sizzling was stopped in its tracks midrace and lost ground while Mrs Gray was wide throughout.
|1||8||DRIEFONTEIN||Gai Waterhouse||Tommy Berry||2||55kg||$3.40F|
|2||14||NO LOOKING BACK||Gai Waterhouse||Nash Rawiller||3||55kg||$9|
|3||12||ALEZAN THUNDER||Mark Kavanagh||Michael Rodd||7||55kg||$11|
|4||3||SIZZLING||Kelso Wood||Chris Munce||5||57kg||$3.80|
|5||16||MRS GRAY||David Hayes||Corey Brown||15||55kg||$31|
|6||2||AMORINO||Gerald Ryan||Jim Cassidy||6||57kg||$3.60|
|7||9||HOSS AMOR||John O’Shea||Brenton Avdulla||9||55kg||$15|
|8||11||DISCREET||Kelly Schweida||Craig Williams||11||55kg||$17|
|9||10||SNIPZU||Liam Birchley||Glen Colless||8||55kg||$26|
|10||13||LADY COLOURS||Bruce W Hill||Paul Hammersley||12||55kg||$26|
|11||1||NOOGOORA BURR||David Lawlor||Ric McMahon||10||57kg||$31|
|12||4||TRAVINO||Peter Mckay||Jason Waddell||14||57kg||$61|
|13||7||PURE WHISPER||Gillian Heinrich||Damian Browne||16||57kg||$101|
|14||6||FUNDIDO||Chris Waller||Glyn Schofield||13||57kg||$26|
|15||5||LITTLE CRITTER||Tony McEvoy||Jim Byrne||4||57kg||$71|
|16||15||LOVE LAUGHING||Troy Hall||Mitchell Wood (a)||1||55kg||$101|
|20e||GRAND BUSINESS||Norm Hilton||0|
|19e||ANTARCTIC DREAM||Bruce W Hill||0|
|17e||DEAR DEMI||Clarry Conners||0|
|18e||SHAMROCK SLIPPER||Liam Birchley||0|