The fairytale comeback for Bling It On was completed following his barnstorming finish to win the Gr.1 $250,000 Pryde’s Easifeed Victoria Cup at TABCORP Park, Melton last night (Saturday).
In only his second run back following 18 months in retirement and standing as a commercial stallion, the nine-year-old produced a withering burst of speed to defeat Queensland star Colt Thirty One and Cruz Bromac in the 2240m mobile start feature, the opening leg of the 2019/20 Australian Pacing Gold Grand Circuit season.
In doing so, he smashed the race and track record (1:52.5 – previously held by Lazarus) when stopping the clock at 1:51.5.
Now prepared by Craig Cross, Bling It On provided the Cobbitty based mentor with his biggest triumph in the sport.
“He’s such a special horse,” said reinsman Luke McCarthy. “Everyone knows his story by now and for him to come back second up after having that long off and win a Victoria Cup is just a credit to the horse.
“He’s so sound and wants to do it, he’s a beautiful horse, open bridle, no head check, no boots, no tongue tie – he’s just a professional. The trip worked out beautifully tonight and lucky enough he was good enough to finish it off.”
Race favourite Cash N Flow was able to lead Colt Thirty One which placed Bling It On three back against the pegs, while San Carlo faced the breeze ahead of Buster Brady and Tam Major.
The lead time was covered in 42.7 seconds.
The pace was genuine with Cash N Flow leading San Carlo through an opening half of 57.5 seconds, splits of 29 and 28.5 seconds.
Heading down the back straight, Buster Brady wasn’t coping with the pressure and started to wander like a lost soul which enabled McCarthy to make his move on Bling It On.
The third quarter was covered in a frantic 27.6 seconds.
At the turn, Cash N Flow led San Carlo narrowly while both Bling It On and Colt Thirty One loomed big danger.
In the home straight, Bling It On had gathered full momentum and surged to the lead while Colt Thirty One finally got to the sprint lane with Cruz Bromac following the path of the eventual winner.
At the line, Bling It On ($5.10) scored by 2.6 metres from Colt Thirty One ($4.70) with Cruz Bromac ($17.50) third some 5.4 metres away.
Cash N Flow ($3.40 Fav) finished sixth.
The final quarter was timed in 27.4 seconds.
Bling It On has now claimed both features in the Garden State, the Hunter and Victoria Cups while taking his Gr.1 tally to six.
The victory provided McCarthy with his third Victoria Cup trophy after previous victories with former North American star Mr Feelgood (2010) and For A Reason (2013).
McCarthy joins Chris Alford (Golden Reign & Lennytheshark x 2) and Brian Hancock (Koala King x 3) as triple Victoria Cup winning drivers while closing in on Brian Gath who has won the event four times (King Frost, Sinbad Bay, Franco Ice & Shakamaker).
The late Vin Knight still holds the record with most victories in the famed feature after winning five times (Popular Alm x 2, Bag Limit x 2 & Sinbad Bay).
The haul of Knight came within a nine year window.
McCarthy now takes his Grand Circuit tally to 13 while he’s now won 59 Gr.1 events with only Alford (102) and Gavin Lang (97) having more.
First staged in 1974 and known as the Winfield Cup up until 1989, the event was staged at the Melbourne Showgrounds before switching to Moonee Valley before being staged at its current home since 2009.
Since being held at Melton, the event has always been run at 2240m.
The next leg of the Australian Pacing Gold Grand Circuit season heads across the ditch for the running of the Gr.1 $750,000 New Zealand Cup at Addington on November 12.