Queenslander Crack Me Up enjoyed a thrilling late win in Saturday’s Group 2 $250,000 Inglis Villiers Stakes (1600m) in Sydney on Saturday earning the Liam Birchley-trained galloper a crack at the lucrative Magic Millions races at the Gold Coast next month.
At the top of the lengthy Randwick straight the Villiers Stakes looked to be the tearaway leader Cabeza De Vaca’s for the taking.
Jockey Joshua Parr, back aboard the Gai Waterhouse & Adrian Bott-trained Northern Meteor six-year-old for the first time this campaign, took a risk and charged out to a 12 length lead on Cabeza De Vaca by the turn for home.
The front-running galloper was brave but tiring over the final furlong and that is when rival hoop Jason Collett aboard Crack Me Up made his move.
Ridden patiently in a ride timed to perfection, Mossman four-year-old Crack Me Up ($6) ran down the tiring Cabeza De Vaca ($5) and enjoyed a narrow quarter-length victory in the Villiers Stakes.
“When we got to the 150m, that’s when I thought the leader was starting to stop and we had a chance,” The Daily Telegraph reported Collett as saying post-win on Saturday.
“At the top of the straight, when I looked up and could see how far in front he was, I didn’t think we could catch him.
“There is only so much you can do in these situations. You are not going to get to the leader at the furlong, you are only going to get near him on the line, if anything.
“So, I just tried to be patient, hope the leader stops, hope he had misjudged his ride and hope I judge my ride properly.”
It was the winner’s maiden run outside of Queensland and took the mile record of Crack Me Up up to three wins and two seconds from seven starts.
The shock riding tactics of Parr also threw into disarray the Villiers Stakes bid of the Godolphin-raced favourite Interlocuter.
Chasing his fourth win on the trot, the five-year-old Medaglia D’Oro import was only able to finish third rounding out the close trifecta a nose further back in a performance that still impressed jockey Tye Angland.
“The tearaway leader turned the race upside down and it didn’t help my horse at all,” Angland said.
Beaten hoop Parr conceded post-race that his decision to go so far forward proved disastrous in the end.
“I was always going to roll along at a strong speed and make it a proper test,” he said.
“But I think I might have asked him too soon.”
Woodford-based horseman Birchley admitted it was a nervous final 200m on Saturday and was full of post-race praise for the progressive winner.
“I was a bit worried when we had to take them [the other horses in the field] up to the leader,” he said.
“I wasn’t sure if he would keep going but to his credit, this horse tries very hard.”
Birchley is likely to resist the temptation of a $100,000 bonus on offer for the Villiers Stakes winner Crack Me Up should the horse head to Doomben on December 30 and win the Listed $300,000 Bernborough Handicap (1600m).
Instead the Magic Millions Carnival at the Gold Coast on January 13 now calls for Crack Me Up whose Villiers Stakes success also earnt a ballot exemption for next April’s Group 1 $3 million Doncaster Mile (1600m) back at Royal Randwick.