The Gai Waterhouse-trained Bonfire has won the $150,000 Grafton Cup in record time, giving the trainer back-to-back wins in the feature race.
Sent out equal favourite at $5, Bonfire replicated the feat of stablemate Queenstown who won the Listed event last year.
He led all the way to break the 2350m track record, defeating Kapour ($5) by a neck with perennial placegetter Shoreham ($7) a further long head away third.
Blake Shinn crossed the field from a wide gate and was never headed aboard the six-year-old, who Waterhouse considered a lightweight Melbourne Cup chance last spring.
Shinn was all smiles after winning on the English import who finally broke through for an Australian victory at his seventh local start.
“It was a great win with 59 kilos and he did it from both ends,” Shinn said.
“Kapour challenged strongly, but the determination, the bone and muscle that Gai instilled in this horse is great.”
Shinn said he never felt the need to try to conserve energy and was happy to turn the race into a true staying test.
“Gai’s horses, they can sustain good sectionals and if I was going to restrain him any slower he would have started fighting me a bit and, as we can see, when I asked him for an effort he delivered,” he said.
“The best horse won, he carried the weight and did the job.”
Before the breakthrough win, Bonfire had placed several times in black-type races including a third to Gris Caro in last year’s Group Three Naturalism Stakes at Caulfield.
Waterhouse’s stable representative Dave Meijer expects the horse to continue to improve.
“He’s pretty untapped, now he has had a win he should go on with it,” Meijer said.
“He’s a bit quirky, the boss has done a good job to get the best out of this horse.
“The boss thought once he blows a field away the penny will drop, he’s a real exciting staying prospect.”
Country feature specialist Robert Thompson, who on Monday won his 11th Jungle Juice Cup at Cessnock aboard Youthful King, did not have a ride in the Grafton Cup but made his mark at the meeting with an early treble aboard Shazza’s Bubbles ($14), Sargent Doakes ($5) and Terio Tool.
Article from justhorseracing.com.au