2011 Sydney Cup winner Stand To Gain fought back after being headed by Zuhayr to record an extremely brave victory in the 2015 Galleywood Hurdle at Warrnambool this afternoon.
Stand To Gain took up the running in the early stages of the Galleywood Hurdle and was able to move five lengths away from his rivals in the first 1000 metres, while the resuming Fieldmaster stalked the speed.
Fieldmaster started the Galleywood Hurdle as a clear favourite and he looked like was travelling into the race nicely, but disaster struck at the 1200 metre mark when he hit the deck and the in-form Beer Garden was also eliminated from contention two jumps later.
Tony Rosolini-trained Zuhayr made his move at the final jump and he looked like the winner with 300 metres left to run, but Stand To Gain fought back bravely to record his biggest race win since he recorded an upset victory in the 2011 edition of the Group 1 Sydney Cup (3200m).
Bob Challis and his partner Liz Irwin only have a small number of horses in work and an emotional Irwin was clearly delighted that Stand To Gain had been able to take out one of the biggest races on the Australian jumps racing calendar.
“It has been a hard road with him and he hasn’t been the easiest horse in the world with his problems,” Irwin said.
“He is really, really happy with himself at the moment, so it is fabulous.
“This year everything has come together, he has jumped brilliantly in his schools and the race.
“He doesn’t normally show a huge amount of fight when the jumping finishes, but today he did.
“It is a huge thrill.”
Jockey Paul Hamblin revealed after the race that he did not go out with the intention to take up the running in the early stages of the Galleywood Hurdle, but he said that Hawk Wing gelding took him to the front under his own steam.
Hamblin admitted that he thought Stand To Gain was going to run second in the Galleywood Hurdle after Zuhayr headed him at the last jump, but the consistent jumps hoop said that he felt the nine-year-old surge when he was asked for an extra effort in the final stages of the race.
“Over the last when Zuhayr went past me I thought that I would run second, but as soon as we levelled out on the flat about 50 yards after the last jump I could feel him surging underneath me,” Hamblin said.
“They were always going to run him down, but it just took them a bit longer than I thought.
“He takes you for the ride and you just sit on him and judge the path.
“He doesn’t quicken much, but he just keeps trying.
“I didn’t go out there intending to lead and if we could get a sit one day that is fine, but they were all waiting for me to take it up, I took it up under my own steam and when nothing takes you on in front it makes it easier.
“It felt good because I knew I was going to get him and it is good to get up in the finish.”