Thompson produces a genius ride on Darci
IF PUNTERS needed some proof of how much of a riding genius jockey Robert Thompson is, they needed to look no further than Thursday's Carlton Draught Coffs Harbour Gold Cup.
Starting from the outside barrier, Thompson took Gold Cup winner Darci's Affair to the front of the field then backed off the speed enormously to make life difficult for those looking for a late run from the back.
The Darci Brahma gelding wanted to get to the front but Thompson was happy to stay on the flank of race leader Glitra.
Approaching the first turn, the front pair slackened the pace right off.
"How slow were they going at the half-way stage of the race?" Thompson said.
"Nearly got back into a trot I think at one stage.
"He was happy there, comfortable, and each time I asked him to lengthen in the straight he gave his all."
The win of Darci's Affair on Thursday was the third time Thompson collected the jockey's trophy in Coffs Harbour's biggest race.
Rather than take credit for his brilliant ride, the veteran of the track gave most of the credit to trainer Paul Murray.
"Of course outside barrier, I had to push forward.
"I probably could've led but he's a better chaser," Thompson said.
"He travelled well and just really fought it right out all the way up the straight. Credit to Paul Murray, I was on a very fit horse."
Murray was pinching himself at the end of the Cup.
Not only had he trained the winner but he also prepared runner-up Gold Horizon as well.
Asked if he even dreamed of claiming the quinella in the Cup, Murray was honest with his reply.
"Not really but we'll take it," he said.
As well as being the trainer, the Kembla Grange horseman also owns the runner-up and has a share in the winner.
Not a bad day's work considering the prize for winning was $43,600 and another $16,000 for the runner-up.
Murray and connections also had a little bit of a flutter on Darci's Affair.
When the market opened 48 hours prior to the race, the odds offered by the TAB on the seven-year-old winning was $18.
There was a plunge big enough from a few punters to see those fixed odds slashed to $7 by the time the gates at the Coffs Harbour Racing Club opened.
Throughout the afternoon the price eased out to $10 before tightening up a touch to $9.50 at the time the Cup field jumped from the 1600-metre shute.
Prior to the Cup Darci's Affair finished third second-up behind Mr McBat in the South Grafton Cup.
Disappointed with the run on the day, Murray said on reflection it was probably the extra race his gelding needed to be in tip-top condition for Thursday's race.
That and a genius ride from one of this country's greatest jockeys.
"He had to use him a little bit to get across and I didn't expect the other horse to be where he was," the trainer said.
"We set him for the South Grafton (Cup) but he just needed that second outing and he was spot on."