HIGHLIGHTS: Grafton Cup Day 2018
4:45pm - RACE 8
BRETT Cavanough told Tegan Harrison she had to break the hearts of the opposition from the 600m and the former Grafton girl did just that as Just A Bullet blazed a winning trail to win today's $50,000 Sir James Handicap (1000m).
Such was her mid race assault that Just A Bullet recorded a brilliant front running win from Danielle Cunningham's Aimalac Millie with John Shelton's Lucky Meteor third in a slick 55.81secs.
Just A Bullet had run third in the Kirby in 2015 too.
"He copped a horse shoe in the head then," Brett Cavanough recalled of his bad luck.
Today it all went right for Tegan Harrison, who was replacing injured Ben Looker, who had been concussed in a race fall the day before.
"Bad luck Bennie, hope you get well soon," Brett Cavanough aid.
"I told Tegan she had to run a sub 23secs from the 600m to the 400m and break their hearts," he said.
"You've got to take it by the scruff of the neck and run them into the ground."
She did and he, seven-year-old grey gelding Just A Bullet did.
Cavanough knew he was capable of it.
"He's been Group placed," he said.
"He's a top horse. He was a bit new in the John Carlton Cup but nearly got away with it."
Brett and wife Lauren, who is overseas holidaying, also own and race Just A Bullet.
"It's been a great carnival," Cavanough said.
"None of our horses have finished any worse than fourth and they've run track records to beat us."
Daily Examiner sports editor Matthew Elkerton caught up with winning trainer Chris Munce (First Crush). View the interview HERE
4:05pm - RACE 7
CHRIS Munce entered a small and prestigious group when First Crush made light of a hard run to win today's $160,000 Listed G McMullan Contracting Grafton Cup (2350m).
The former jockey, who won Grafton Cups as a rider in 1999 (Count Scenario) and 2005 (Storm Hill), won his first as a trainer when Mark Du Plessis roared home on the six-year-old gelding to beat Winkler (John Everson) and Reneged (John Thompson).
Only Maurice McCarten has won a Grafton Cup as a jockey and trainer, doing so in 1927 and then 20 years later as a trainer in 1947.
However, Munce's thoughts were far from winning when Du Plessis and First Crush looked hopelessly placed mid-race when back near the tail. The jockey thought he could be string up on a crucifix.
Chris Munce admitted he "nearly walked back to the stable" at the same time.
Former race caller Steve Hawkins, who has called and seen many Grafton Cups, reckoned it the biggest Cup win he' seen.
"He sat four deep all the way and still kept coming," Hawkins said.
Chris Munce marvelled at the performance and thanked his staff for all their hard work.
"A lot of hard work goes into this," he said.
"My whole staff work tirelessly, work tremendously hard. I just had the horse happy and healthy."
First Crush had won the Grafton Cup Prelude but then finished unplaced in the 2017 Grafton Cup to Supply And Demand.
"It was too quick a back up to win the Prelude and then into the Cup," he said of a horse
"We'll let the dust settle now but I might give him a freshen up."
He said his training career "is only in its early days yet" and hopes to return for much more success at Grafton.
Our roving reporter Jarrard Potter caught up with a familiar face in the crowd...
Read the story HERE
3:30pm - RACE 6
KING Lear made it another one act racing affair when the Gosford gelding overwhelmed his opponents to win his second race in a week at Grafton today.
The Tony Newing-trained four-year-old sprinter won the John Carlton cup at Grafton last Thursday and returned to his new, favourite track to win today's $40,000 Village Green Hotel Association Plate Class 6 Showcase (1200m) in another dashing and slashing display.
As he did in the John Carlton Cup he came from back in the field to overpower the rest of the field, running away to a length and a quarter win from Hellaroo. More Patasi was a half length away third.
A beaming Tony Newing was buoyant and nodded in agreement and understanding when told this year's Ramornie Handicap winner, Havasay, had won this same race last year.
He's also hoping it is a launching pad for King Lear, also, to next year's Ramornie.
He had won a berth in Wednesday's Ramornie when he won the John carlton Cup last Thursday but resisted the exemption clause because he knew it was too soon for his lightly raced gelding.
He needed more time to prepare him for a proper dash at such a prestigious and big race.
"For sure," he answered to Sky Thoroughbred Central's gary Kliese when asked if the 2019 Ramornie was now on his racing radar.
"Next year is the time for that."
Today's win was also the third win in a week for Newing, who loves the annual carnival.
"It has been fantastic, we brought the right horses.
"We haven't got to the bottom of this horse yet," he added of King Lear, who has now won six of his 11 starts.
"He's the best horse I've ever had, very exciting."
He said King Lear is likely to go for a spell.
"That'll pull him up I think," he said.
"He hasn't got too much more to achieve."
The inaugural winner of the Instagram based category of Telstra Best Dressed Couple is Cathlene Navie and Scott Fawcett of Grafton who, while not ladders painting buildings, cut a stylish figure on track.
A dapper Kurt Bloomer of Grafton took out runner-up while Michael Turner took out Lowes Best Dressed Gent in an op shop suit.
It's all about the men now as a line of suits take to the stage for Lowes Best Dressed Gent. Traditional suiting in many shades of blue has out pipped two-tone jacket pant. One finalist drank beer out of his shoe but the judges were not impressed...
2:55pm - RACE 5
USURP broke through for a big, maiden win in win today's $45,000 Northern Rivers Concrete Pumping Big Maiden Showcase Handicap (1200m) at Grafton.
The Maryann Brosnan-trained gelding, a three-year-old son of Lonhro, followed a half length second at Ipswich with his breakthrough success today, snatching a half neck win from San Marco with Moonmo a head away third.
Jim Byrne rode the gelding and believes there are more successes in store for him.
"He got a pretty good run today," Jim Byrne said.
"The other day (at Ipswich) he went pretty hard. He is a bit of a relaxed customer and there is a bit more depth to him yet. He had an awkward draw and I had to use him to get across."
Maryann Brosnan said "there is an interesting story to this horse".
It starts with fellow trainer Kelso Wood, who is ill and usually trains for Usurp's owner Noel Fuller, Maryann said.
"He told Noel to fly down to the sale and buy him," she said.
"He flew to Sydney got a taxi out to the Sales but was told there are no sales here. They are in Melbourne. So he jumped back in a taxi back to the airport and got another late flight to Melbourne. He walked into the sales just as this bloke entered the ring."
And the rest is history.
"Kelso usually trains for Noel but because he's been quite ill he's come to me.
"I'm very grateful."
Did you spot our two reporters Caitlan and Ebony furiously taking photos and video of the Grafton Shopping World Fashions on the Field?
Drum roll... the winners are: Contemporary Best Dressed Lady is Bec Zaffino of Grafton, runner-up Bree Turner of Grafton and the winner of Red Hot Hair Best Dressed Lady is Kacey Lloyd of Cabarita Beach.
The heats are underway in Red Hair lady of the carnival a range of racing ensembles including floral, classic, all-black and colourful quirky combinations all vying for the ultimate title of Best Dressed lady.
2:10pm - RACE 4
GORDON'S Leap continued his "learning curve" with a powerful win in today's $40,000 Fidelity Capital Class 1 Showcase Handicap (1400m) at Grafton.
The Lisa Sheppard-trained four-year-old gelding was having just his fourth start today.
He had debuted at Canterbury before winning his maiden at Taree and then running fourth on his home, Port Macquarie, track.
Lisa Sheppard not only trains the son of Arlington but bred him.
She has also "taken her time" with him.
"We take him swimming, a lot of long, slow work," she said.
She said Andrew Gibbons' ride was "a great ride".
"I think he has a lot of ability, as I've told you before Gary," she said to Sky Thoroughbred Central's Gary Kliese.
"It's all a learning curve, we've taken him along slowly, little baby steps."
Originally training at Goulburn she moved to Port Macquarie earlier this year and has "four or five in work".
She has no concrete plans for Gordon's Leap.
"I'll look in the calendar when I get home," she said.
Things are heating up ahead of the big fashion categories in this year's Grafton Shoppingworld Fashions on the Field event with around 50 women registered and ready to compete in this year's Red Hot Hair Best Dressed Lady.
The gents have also thrown their hats into the fashion ring with around 20 dapper chaps registered and raring to go.
1:40pm - RACE 3
ROMNEY'S Choice was Chris Anderson's best choice.
The Eagle Farm based Anderson, with 44 horses in work, celebrated his first win with the daughter of Denman in today's $50,000 TAB.com.au Mother's Gift (1400m) at Grafton.
He'd bought the five-year-old mare over the internet for just $20,000 from a Sydney trainer.
she had debuted for him at Doomben with a fourth last December and then ran third there when she resumed from a spell on June 27.
"She's not the most sound horse I've ever trained," Chris Anderson said.
"She's a lovely big mare we did have in town this Saturday but she drew 19 so we thought we'd come here."
Chris also owns the mare and her $27,460 winners cheque covered her purchase price with a little bit extra.
And Chris Anderson believes she has plenty more to give as well.
"She's a Saturday horse," he said of a likely metro campaign.
12:55pm - RACE 2
SKY Thoroughbred Central commentators Priscilla Schmidt and Gary Kliese described it as an "old fox and young buck" result when Patriot swooped late to win today's $40,000 The Bidfood Benchmark 69 Showcase Handicap (1000m) at Grafton.
The old fox they were alluding to was none other Robert Thompson, king of the coalfields and winner of the most races in Australian history.
The young buck was Port Macquarie trainer Matthew McCudden. The 22-year-old trainer only took out his licence at the end of March.
He racked up a four winners quick before running into a little bit of drought, he said, before Patriot rattled home to win the sprint.
Patriot, a three-year-old chestnut gelding son of Reward For Effort has now won three of his 13 starts.
"They said there was a bit of trick to him," said Robert Thompson, who has seen and managed just about any equine trick imaginable.
"We did get a long way back but he always travelled good and he responded when I asked him for something up the straight."
Matthew McCudden believes "the ride won him the race".
"I gave him no chance on turning for home," Matthew McCudden said.
"I'd told Robert before the race if you've got a magic wand wave it."
Thompson has been waving that magic wand for many years.
"RT has got me back on the winners board," he said.
"I told Robert he had a few little tricks to him."
Matthew McCudden said patriot had excuses for a last start seventh at Taree too.
"He didn't like the going there, and the 61kg didn't help either.
"He also had a real blow after the race."
Today he carried 57kg and RT and responded powerfully over the final two furlongs.
12:20pm - RACE 1
VERNAZZA just lasted to win today's $45,000 NBN Springboard To Fame 2YO Showcase Plate (1200m) at Grafton.
The Matt Dunn trained filly, a daughter of Written Tycoon, hit the front on straightening for home and then
floated" to the line reported jockey Jim Byrne to hold on for a narrow half head win from Grafton filly she's Choosie.
The Greg Kilner-trained filly almost added to her four wins but had to settle for $8985 runners-up cheque.
Vernazza, was having her second start in a race and coming off a debut seventh at Doomben when she weakened late.
Stable foreman for Matt Dunn, Dan Wheeler, said "she got a little lost when she got to the front at Doomben the other day".
"She was a lot more tractable today. You haven't seen the best of her yet, she's a very good filly. When she goes for a spell she will come back a lot better."
He said Matt Dunn, who is holidaying overseas, is likely to spell her now.
Jim Byrne rode the filly and was also on board for her debut at Doomben.
"She did a few wrongs (at Doomben). Today she floated to the line so there's a lot to take out of that win. There's a lot more improvement in her yet."