Nine-times champion Bundaberg trainer Darryl Gardiner again came to the fore on his biggest home stage, taking out a double at the Melbourne Cup Day meeting at Thabeban Park.
He won the first two races on the program, with superbly bred mares Ethelda (Ray White Bundaberg Maiden Plate) and Balut (Mi Signworx Class B).
He was denied a treble in the Steward’s Room, with one of his two runners in the last race, the Craft Rental and Hardware Benchmark 60, Shenzi, crossing the line first, but being relegated to second on protest by Cadouin’s rider Rebecca Wilson.
It was the seventh year in a row that Darryl had been successful at the Park on Melbourne Cup Day, and the third time he had claimed two winners in front of by far the biggest crowds of the year.
Ethelda, whose sire El Nino is a son of the late Storm Cat, which was for years the world's most valuable stallion, was ridden a treat by jockey Kelly Gates after being sent out the favourite, paying $3.60, and her victory was well deserved after she had run two seconds, two thirds and a fourth in her previous five outings since being purchased by Darryl from Sunshine Coast in July.
Balut ($3.50), which is by former international champion and now star sire Choisir, was ridden by apprentice Shania Willis and edged out favourite Jet Spinner ($1.80).
Darryl purchased her from Country New South Wales early this year, and she was victorious at her first two runs for him at Monto and Gladstone in March-April, but she had managed just a third from her subsequent five appearances and had failed dismally at her only previous run on the track in July.
Shenzi was also ridden by Shania, but stewards ruled that she had impeded the path of Cadouin when she ran wide in the straight, and Cadouin, which was ridden by 2020-21 Bundaberg Jockeys Premiership winner Rebecca Wilson, was declared the winner for her Dalby trainer Pat Richardson.
The feature event, the Livingstone Low Electrical Country Stampede Qualifier Open Handicap, was won well by favourite, the United States-bred eight-year-old V J Day ($1.50) with his regular rider Gary Geran in the saddle for Toowoomba trainer Pat Webster.
V J Day started his career in Great Britain and won two races there, at Newmarket and Windsor, and also grabbed three minor placings from 11 starts before being imported and making his Australian debut in May 2019.
He has since recorded 13 wins, 8 seconds and 5 thirds from 36 starts, from Brisbane to Cairns, including five straight victories at Cunnamulla and four at Roma from June-August 2021, and another five in a row at St George, Doomben, St George, Roma, and Chinchilla, from November 2021-May 2022, before being runner-up to Ammoudi Bay in the Battle of the Bush Final at Eagle Farm on 25th June.
Making his track debut, the gelding took his career earnings to $255,605 so far, and by the win, he qualified for the Queensland Country Stampede Final at Doomben on 3rd December.
Meanwhile, champion Gympie trainer Barry Gill took out the remaining event, the East End Hotel QTIS Ratings Band 0-50 Handicap with another eight-year-old, Nine Cigars, a $2 favourite, romping home a 4.5-length victor, ridden by Gemma Steele and notching just his seventh win in 60 starts after having won just one of his first 10 races in the Rum City.
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