CHARLAVAL delivered trainer KerryAnn Turner her second straight Group 2 Shirley Turnbull Memorial triumph in spectacular style on Tuesday night, with her gelding chasing down red hot favourite Bling It On in the dying stages.
Winner of the 2015 edition of the race, Bling It On ($1.50), carried the field into the final turn of the 2,790-metre endurance test before Charlaval ($11) and driver Robbie Morris peeled off his back to mount a challenge.
Charlaval was the only horse who could match it with the leader after Bling It On and his driver Luke McCarthy had thrown down the gauntlet with a quick 27.4 third quarter.
Morris and Charlaval raced up to the outside of Bling It On with 100m left to run and McCarthy’s champion didn’t have a response.
The winning margin was three metres, with John McCarthy’s Blazin N Cullen ($17.90) finishing in third a further seven metres adrift.
Winning trainer Turner picked up her second straight Shirley Turnbull Memorial crown following Aztec Bromac’s shock victory last year.
Morris said he was feeling good about his chances when the field came into the final turn.
“I was mindful of how good the horse was that I was chasing,” he said.
“I wasn’t left thinking that I was going to blow him away, but coming up into the 300m he swelled up into the bridle really good and I thought ‘we’re going to run a really good second here, at worst’.
“When he came off his back Luke went for it and Bling It On didn’t kick like he normally would. To both horses’ credit 2,700 metres is a long way for any horse, especially when they’re so used to racing the mile trips now.
“Bling It On was great. Just our horse had the better trip on the day, though he’d still done a lot of work.
“He’d travelled keen throughout the run, which wasn’t to my liking, it would have been nice to drop the bit a little more over that distance. He settled good enough though and he came off the back strong.
“He’s shown he’s going to be a really nice horse going forward.”
Charlaval was given the perfect opportunity to dictate terms from gate one, and Morris made the most of the draw.
While Charlaval got to the front with ease there was plenty of early action happening on his outside in the battle for the death seat.
Todd McCarthy and Admiral Bronski held that spot going past the winning post for the first time before Raksmach bolted from the rear of the field to get to the leader’s outside.
Raksmach’s dash to the front had given Bling It On to perfect opportunity to get forward with cover, and by the time the field were leaving the back straight Luke McCarthy’s runner had found himself in the lead.
On the final lap both Blazin N Cullen and My General Lee made three wide moves.
However, the chasing duo had put in the hard yards to get towards the front and it showed when both Bling It On and Charlaval began to put distance between themselves and the rest of the field.
Charlaval won in a 1:58.2 mile rate over the race’s new, extended distance.
That time will now stand as a track record as it was the first ever mobile start at Bathurst Paceway over 2,790m.