Popular Bundaberg 10-year-old Al’s Briefs made a dream race swansong, putting the icing on a distinguished career by winning the Mi Signworx Open Handicap at Thabeban Park yesterday.
The race was unfortunately reduced to a field of three with two late scratchings
Apprentice Rebecca Wilson settled the gelding at the tail of the field before letting him loose at the top of the straight, and he raced away over the concluding stages to win by 5.25 lengths from favourite See For Yourself.
Al’s Briefs won on debut at Bathurst in August 2014 but was unplaced at his next seven starts before being purchased by Monto district grazier Mark Hutton and being placed in champion Bundaberg trainer Darryl Gardiner’s care in March 2015.
He won his first Queensland start for them at Gayndah on June 6, 2015, and also was successful at his next outing in Gladstone.
Al’s Briefs’ first appearance on his home track on Melbourne Cup Day 2015, November 3 – exactly five years before yesterday – also resulted in victory in a 1380m open handicap.
He retires with an impressive record of 72 starts for them for 19 wins, 14 seconds and nine thirds for prizemoney of $142,585, including an even more remarkable return on the Rum City track of 9 wins, 8 seconds, 3 thirds and 6 fourths, missing prizemoney only once with a gallant fifth in the 2020 Bundaberg Cup in September.
The stylish bay had been runner-up in the 2019 Bundaberg Cup after also finishing second in the city’s other premier race, the Lightning, in 2018.
But Al's Briefs did achieve two major Cup victories, Eidsvold – Darryl’s hometown – in 2017 – and the rich Gympie 150 Years of Racing Gold Cup in 2018.
It had been announced before yesterday’s race that it would be his last, and it was fitting that he took out the money.
Despite the result, Darryl and proud owner Mark Hutton had no thoughts about extending his career, and later Mark loaded him into his float to take him to his Coominglah property to enjoy the rest of his days.
“I paid $2,500 for him and everyone said I was mad – but he has won almost $150,000 in prizemoney and he’s been just a great old horse,” Mark said.
But Mark is hoping for more success with another horse which he recently purchased from country Victoria and he brought with him and placed in Darryl’s stables yesterday, Blonde’s Day Out.
A five-year-old mare, Blonde’s Day Out comes with great credentials, having had just 11 starts so far for a win at Wangaratta on June 29 this year and five minor placings.
Al’s Briefs was the only Bundaberg horse to win on yesterday’s program, with Nanango’s Glenn Richardson, Gympie’s Kaye Hill and Mark Lewis, and Bob Murray (Eidsvold), taking out the maiden, Class B, Benchmark 45 and Benchmark 60 with Mr Noddy, Mr Fuji, Prince Manitou and Layla’s Lad respectively.
Female jockeys won all races, with Kelly Gates picking up a double on Mr Noddy and Layla’s Lad, Bundaberg Cup winning apprentice Shannyn Stephan partnering Mr Fuji, and Stephanie Lacy piloting Prince Manitou.
Crowd numbers were well down on usual Melbourne Cup Day attendances due to Covid-19 restrictions, but a great time was had by all, including with many joining in a lower-key Fashions of the Field.