We were racing at Borrowdale Park on Sunday and couldn’t have had a better day had we been at Ascot or Chantilly. It was packed with good racing but the feature event, the 1450m Zimbabwe Challenge, will give us something to talk about until racing resumes on January 3.
One can talk about cliffhanger or nailbiting finishes but this one was incredible – no other words will do. Super Trouper came out of nowhere to deny Thriller In Manila the victory in the last stride. Man of the moment was jockey Brendon McNaughton who said afterwards he knew at the 200m mark that Super Trouper could do it. Believe me, at that stage, no-one watching gave the son of West Man (USA) a glimmer of a chance.
At the presentation of the Zimbabwe Challenge Trophy part owner, Spencer Murray, said this was the best finish he had witnessed in 50 years. Hopefully the race video will soon be available so those who missed it can see for themselves.
Super Trouper was slow away and seemed to be dallying at the back of the field while Thriller In Manila (*Ryan Munger) went on to the pace with Pegwell Bay tracking. The Gharir gelding maintained the lead throughout the race, shaking off challenges in the process, while Super Trouper looked anything but threatening. I always keep an eye on Madigan (Herholdt) but he too seemed boxed in midfield, also without a prayer.
In the last few strides everything changed. Super Trouper grew wings and the screams from the Ipi Tombe Room were quite sensational as he put his nose in front . And there was Madigan going into the third box – don’t ask me how he got there because we only had eyes for the “Thriller” and Super Trouper at the death. Only 0.85 lengths separated the first three horses. Approval Rating came fourth and this was truly an amazing race.
Super Trouper is owned by Gengiz Goksel, Paul Rugg and Grant Littleford, as well as Spencer Murray, and trained by Gokhan Terzi. The 8-year-old gelding has now won 12 races, and was bred by Clifton Stud.
He was acclaimed the People’s Horse, by popular vote, at the end of the 2014/15 racing season – and we can look forward to more of the same in 2016.
GAVIN MACLEOD provided the photograph of the Zimbabwe Challenge Finish.
THE MAN OF THE MOMENT
When you see Brendon McNaughton (BELOW) and Super Trouper team up – watch out. They made headlines when winning the Zimbabwe Challenge at Borrowdale Park on Sunday, December 13, 2015 – having won the same race on December 14, 2014. Believe it or not Thriller In Manila was also beaten by a whisker into second place last year.
PHOTOGRAPH: Rosie Dorward