A gun ride from Hong Kong’s Douglas Whyte got the Chris Waller-trained Sydney raider Moriarty home in Saturday’s $500,000 Group 1 Tabtouch Kingston Town Classic (1800m) in Perth ahead of the William Pike-ridden equal favourite Disposition.
It was a thrilling battle to the line in the final Group 1 race of the Australian calendar year, champion hoop Whyte getting the perfect trail on the back of Grant Williams’ local Reset three-year-old Disposition who did the early work to get across from an outside draw (13) to lead.
Coming off a second in the WA Guineas, his first career loss, Disposition looked the Kingston Town Classic winner approaching the post.
But Whyte’s patience with Clodovil seven-year-old Moriarty paid off as he improved his position from fifth to first, wearing down the leader and beating home his younger rival by a half-head for the horse’s breakthrough Group 1 win.
“It came down to pure heart and he had it,” Waller’s travelling foreperson Johanne Taylor told The West Australian on Saturday.
Moriarty went out as equal $4.60 favourite with Disposition in the markets after debuting in WA a fortnight ago with a slashing third in the Group 1 Railway Stakes (1600m).
The horse relished the extra metres, an inside barrier one draw and the weight-for-age conditions of the Kingston Town Classic then and won Waller his 10th Group 1 of the 2014-15 season.
So close was the finish that the beaten jockey Pike asked to review the closing stages after Moriarty gave him a bump right on the post, but he opted not to lodge a protest and the positions stood much to the dismay of the runner-up’s breeder-owner Bob Peters.
“I thought he (Moriarty) would get us 50 out,” Peters admitted.
Railway Stakes winning mare Elite Belle, also prepared by the Karnup-based Grant Williams, was brave in defeat on Saturday when shooting for back-to-back elite levels.
She and jockey Paul Harvey, who replaced Pike after he opted for the ride on Disposition instead, crossed two and a quarter lengths away from Moriarty to round out the Kingston Town Classic trifecta.
In fourth was then Wez Hunter’s The Goodwood winner Smokin’ Joey ($11) only a quarter length further away as he and fifth past the post Fuchsia Bandana ($16) running the same positions they did in the Railway Stakes.
The disappointment of the race meanwhile was the Gai Waterhouse-trained Pheidon who struggled to find the lead and faded in the closing stages to finish dead last over 12 lengths off the winner.
Whyte, replacing the suspended Nash Rawiller, was quick to sing Waller praises after the win, crediting the maestro horseman’s ability to have his gallopers peaking on race day.
“I think Chris Waller is just a genius, he produces his horses on race day in form, and it makes my job a lot easier,” he said.
“I had a great run around and followed the right horse.
“The gate was a huge advantage because I was able to offset a lot of the weight.”
He was also thrilled to secure his first Group 1 win down under, and said to take one out in Perth was an extra bonus.
“I finally got my Group 1 in Australia,” Whyte said.
“I love coming to Perth. It’s one of my favourite tracks.
“Up until about 50 (metres) out I didn’t think I was going to get there.
“But he showed great tenacity and he really wanted to find the line and win.”
Moriarty is now a chance to back-up on December 20 back at Ascot in the $250,000 Group 2 C.B. Cox Stakes (2100m), Taylor saying a decision would be made after seeing how he came through the win.