From the moments the gates crashed back, punters and racing fans knew the 2020 South Grafton cup was going to be a race of thrills and spills.
Prime Stella bucked jockey, Ben Looker in the opening stages, while eventual race winner, Jazzland went hard for the lead in an exciting start to the 1600m feature event.
Shortly afterwards, the rider-less Prime Stella flew past the leaders, no doubt egging on the front runners and throwing some extra pace into the race.
Despite the challenge, jockey Koby Jennings kept his cool on the Kristen Buchanan trained Jazzland, leading from pillar to post and holding off the Cejay Graham ridden stablemate, Brazen for a half-length victory.
The Wyong-based trainer admitted it was an oddly-run affair but was thankful the rider-less horse didn’t impact either of her horses chances.
“With the horse getting lose, that was tough but we can’t change what happened and it all worked out in the long run,” Buchanan said.
Buchanan went into the race confident both of her runners would be a chance but knew they would be at different ends of the spectrum during the race.
“We knew that both were a chance today. I knew Jazzland could lead and I knew Brazen would appreciate the decent pace and would be flying home,” Buchanan said.
Buchanan said she wasn’t overly concerned about the rider-less horse influencing Jazzland and his front-running tempo.
“Jazzland is a very tractable horse, if you ask him to take a sit, hit will. He isn’t fierce and doesn’t fire up,” Buchanan said
“Koby rode him right to my instructions, we always knew that if we didn’t set a fast-enough tempo, they would try and whip around us but he did a good job.”
Jazzland was a drifting $8 chance going into the $50,000 feature event and was coming off a seemingly poor effort at Randwick last time out, when beaten by 14.5 lengths over the unsuitable 1200m distance.
“Look I know how good the horse is, I didn’t think he would be in contention over 1200m but that result did rattle my cage a little bit,” Buchanan said.
“I went over him with a fine-tooth comb to make sure nothing was wrong and there wasn’t.
“I was confident if the horse was happy mentally, that he was up to physically, which he proved he was.”
The five-year-old Home on the Grange gelding has proven a handy commodity for connections, winning seven times from 16 starts and earning connections just shy of $160,000 in prizemoney.
“He has really good aerobic capacity and his cruising speed is absolutely amazing,” Buchanan said.
“I thought I had 2000m horse early days but he has proven to be very capable over shorter distances too.”