Bling Is Best In Hunter Cup

04 February 2017 | Chris Barsby

The 2016/17 Australian Pacing Gold Grand Circuit season has been dominated by the All Stars stable of Mark Purdon and Natalie Rasmussen.

The unbelievably arrogant and record breaking victories from Lazarus in the both the New Zealand and Victoria Cups have been matched by the never say die effort of Smolda in the Inter Dominion Grand Final in Perth plus the remarkably easy thrashing (Our) Dream About Me handed out to her older rivals in the Auckland Cup on New Year’s Eve.

And most expected that trend to continue tonight (Saturday) via aging warrior Smolda who was shooting for back to back victories.

But the big time Sydney stable of John and Luke McCarthy were able to claw one back on their kiwi foes after Bling It On scored a dominant victory in the Gr.1 $500,000 Del Re National A G Hunter Cup defeating Yayas Hot Spot and Lennytheshark in the 2760m feature at TABCORP Park, Melton.

While Team McCarthy are no strangers to success on the Grand Circuit stage, they finally added the Hunter Cup silverware to their trophy cabinet.

Aided by a brilliant tactical drive, Bling It On claimed his biggest collect yet with his barnstorming finish via the sprint lane.

With Yayas Hot Spot leading from gate two, McCarthy was able to drive aggressively early and challenged hard for the lead which he obtained.

Soon after, race favourite Smolda and Mark Purdon moved alongside Bling It On and worked each other before McCarthy opted for cover.

The lead time was covered in 83.1 seconds.

As the field entered the home straight with a lap remaining, Lennytheshark worked around three-wide to park outside Smolda while Bling It On occupied the pocket position.

The first half of the final mile was covered in 29.7 and 29.3 seconds.

Entering the back straight, Smolda and Lennytheshark hooked up and tested each other strongly.

The third quarter was clocked in a frantic 27.5 seconds.

With Smolda and Lennytheshark engaged in a titanic struggle, McCarthy sat patiently and waited for the sprint lane passage.

In the home straight, Bling It On pounced and quickly raced away from his rivals while Yayas Hot Spot used inside runs to grab second some 6m away while Lennytheshark battled hard to hold third a further 5m away.

The last quarter was timed in 27.8 seconds.

The overall time was 3:17.4 which equates to a mile rate of 1:55.1.

Race favourite Smolda weakened to finish sixth.

“It’s great to finally win this race, I’ve been trying for some time but now I’ve finally got it and it feels great given it’s with this horse who we’ve had since a baby.” Winning driver Luke McCarthy said.

Bling It On joins pint-sized Perth pacer Chicago Bull as Australian trained winners of Grand Circuit events this season.

Last month, Chicago Bull won the Gr.1 $450,000 WA Pacing Cup at Gloucester Park.

New Zealand four-year-old Lazarus sits atop of the leaderboard with 200 points while the victory of Bling It On moves him into outright second with 160 points.

Smolda, (Our) Dream About Me and Chicago Bull have also managed to reach three figures.

The final leg of the APG Grand Circuit takes place on February 25 at TABCORP Park, Menangle with the running of the Gr.1 $750,000 Ainsworth Miracle Mile.