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Top 10 moments of the 2017/18 SA Racing Season

Now that the 2017-18 South Australian racing season has come to an end, enjoy our top 10 moments from this season.

10. Thirteen; a number unlucky for some. Not for Tony McEvoy

In one of the most remarkable winning streaks in racing, Tony McEvoy proved that thirteen is far from an unlucky number with a hot streak that lasted four months, five racedays and thirteen runners.

When Diamond Tycoon saluted on 11 April, no punter in the world would have believed that the McEvoy team would be undefeated at Balaklava until the third race on 18 July.

The Balaklava hot streak was just a small part of McEvoy’s success in Season 2017/18 with the stable amassing $9.8milion in prizemoney at a sensational 23% Strike Rate across Australia. With horses like Sunlight, Kinky Boom, Hey Doc and Bring Me Roses in his stable, it looks like 2018/19 could be an even bigger year for the Angaston based trainer.    

9. Excites Zelady claims his third Murray Bridge Gold Cup

The Chris Bieg trained Excites Zelady might have to be known as the ‘King of Murray Bridge’ going forward after his talented miler added a third Murray Bridge Gold Cup to his resume.

The 2014 & 2015 winner was unwanted in the market after some below average runs coming into the Listed feature and jumped at $26. However, the seven-year-old produced a gutsy run for Justin Potter and held off the fast finishing Magic Consul to claim his third Murray Bridge Gold Cup

The $27k yearling purchase has now gone on to win over $551k for connections including three Listed Murray Bridge Gold Cups and the 2013 Group 3 Breeders Stakes.

After Zipping’s fourth win in the Sandown Classic, the race was renamed in his honour. What will happen if Excites Zelady can salute again in 2018?

8. The rebirth of Gailo Chop

No one knew what to expect when 2015 Group 1 Mackinnon Stakes winner Gailo Chop stepped out in the Listed Penny Edition Stakes at Morphettville. The Darren Weir trained gelding had only had one run in 17 months, in which he finished eight lengths last. Off of his last start it’s fair to say his career was well and truly at the crossroads when he made his way across the border to tackle the Listed feature in Septembers.

Even the bookies were unsure of what the seven-year-old could do against a pretty handy field which included horses like Lord Aspen, Riziz and Casino Wizard when he was sent out at odds of $6.

However, the grand old galloper showed he still had plenty of class to comfortably win by half a length, but this was just the start of his resurgence.

The Chop went on to take out the Group 1 Caulfield Stakes and the Group 1 Ranvet Stakes over the next sixth months and start his resurgence as one of the country’s best horses. And it all started here in Adelaide!

7. Kah and Balfour combine for a fabulous five

Saturday 25 November started like any other day at Morphettville Racecourse but no one could have guessed what would occur that day.

The in-form trainer Ryan Balfour and superstar hoop Jamie Kah managed to combine for five winners on the card, making for a truly memorable day at Morphettville.

Their magical day started with a win in Race 2 with Rushwa saluting and then the pair combined for a race to race double with Magnus Knight in Race 3.

Kah and Balfour were agonizingly close to making it four from four with Cashed missing in Race 4 by 0.1 lengths and Infinity Queen only missing by 0.3 lengths in the fifth.

After some heartbreakingly close losses the pair bounced back and took the final three races on the card with Cobber, Kirona and Trupt all winning comfortably, giving them five wins and two seconds for the day. A truly remarkable achievement.

Balfour’s feat of five Adelaide Metropolitan winners has only been beaten by legendary trainer Colin Hayes who trained seven winners in a day while Kah’s achievement in the saddle will go down in history as one of only four jockeys to ride five Metropolitan winners on one day in South Australia.

6. Nature Strip puts daylight on Sunlight

In one of the most anticipated match races on South Australian soil in years, Darren Weir’s Nature Strip proved way too good for the South Australian speedster in Sunlight.

Returning to the scene where the three-year-old had his worst career finish to date (fourth) in the Group 2 Euclase Stakes in May, Nature Strip put the past behind him and absolutely destroyed the Tony McEvoy trained filly who ran 5.9 lengths behind him in second place.

While the margin was a lot bigger than many anticipated, the fact that we had two of Australia’s finest up and coming stars of the turf do battle in South Australia was huge for the state and shows that the resurgence of SA racing is gathering huge momentum.

Could this exciting speedster be the next Everest contender to come out of South Australia last season? Time will tell but after is effort last month, you’d think the sky is the limit for Nature Strip!

5. Trailblazing Lindop hangs up the saddle

It’s always sad to see the greats of a sport retire but in June, Clare Lindop did it on her terms, going out in-form and without any fanfare as she stepped away from the sport she dominated for over 20 years. 

With over 50 Stakes wins, 1,400 winners and four Group 1’s, Lindop went out as a rider still in form notching up Stakes winners right to the end, claiming the Breeders & Sires’ Produce Stakes on Tequila Time across the Festival of Racing.

In her career she has done it all. Three time Metropolitan Premiership winner, two time State Premiership winner and remarkably has finished in the Top 5 riders in SA 13 times in her career.

Add to that she was the first Australian women to ride in the Melbourne Cup and the first female to win the Victorian Derby. No matter how you see it, Lindop was a trailblazer of the sport and inspired many young women to believe in their dreams and become a jockey.

While her retirement announcement came on the Eve of this year’s Adelaide Cup, Lindop had a successful Festival of Racing before bowing out at Morphettville on 2 June, her last ride coming aboard the Peter Moody trained Big Call.

In retirement, Lindop is set to continue her fantastic charity work. She has been an ambassador for Variety for many years, getting involved in many charity days as well as the Variety Club Bash. She will be recognised for her outstanding achievements in the racing industry, when she is inducted into the South Australian Hall of Fame in September.

4. Santa Ana Lane steals the show in the Goodwood

We unearthed more than a few stars of the turf in South Australia last season and Santa Ana Lane was one star that has kept shining right through winter. Not only did he claim the Goodwood in sensational style, he travelled the 1860km up to Brisbane to claim the Group 1 Stradbroke Handicap as well.

Back to Goodwood Day though, there is one thing all owners should know. If you want to win a Goodwood, you need to book Ben Melham.

At the turn Melham and Santa Ana Lane looked to go wide to try and get out through the traffic but with a heap of horses fanning out wide, Melham changed tactics and pinched a narrow gap back towards the rail and let down with a huge run to claim the Group 1 by just over a length to Missrock.

The win was Ben Melham’s third victory in the Goodwood after winning in 2013 on Platelet and 2014 on Smokin’ Joey.

Santa Ana Lane is now set to join his stablemate, Shoals in October’s $13 million Everest where trainer Anthony Freedman could be set for a huge payday.  

3. Super Kah hits 151

The rise and rise of Jamie Kah continued in Season 2017/18 with the 22 year old dominating the South Australian racing scene with 139 winners in the state and 151 around the country.

The 151 Australia wide wins put her third overall in Australia behind William Pike and Brenton Avdulla, while she won the SA Jockey Premiership by a lazy 48 wins and the Metropolitan Premiership by 26 wins.

Another accolade for the young hoop is that she now holds the South Australian record for most wins in a season with 139, just pipping Simon Price’s 138 from 2002/03.

Her association this year with Tony McEvoy was unstoppable at times with the pair combining for 56 wins from 177 starts at a 31.6 % Strike Rate.

With a Group 1 victory the only thing left to add to her ever-growing resume, you just know that, that magical milestone will only just be around the corner for our own SA born superstar.    

2. Shoals claims her third Group 1 in fine fashion

Three time Group 1 winner Shoals cemented her position as one of the most exciting young horses in Australia with her stunning 1.7 length victory in the Group 1 UBET Classic.

With Mark Zahra unable to make the weight due to illness, Sydney based jockey Tim Clark secured one of the all-time great pick-up rides on the Anthony Freedman trained filly. Surprisingly the filly was on the sixth line of betting at $12 despite her impressive CV.

Shoals was given a beautiful ride from Clark as she peeled wide at the turn and let down with a huge run from the 300m and put pay to the field to record a comfortable win from last year’s winner Secret Agenda and locally trained Mica Lil.

After her win, the connections turned down the opportunity to meet the Queen at Royal Ascot with a slot in the $13 million Everest in October now assured for the speedy Sydneysider.  

1. Harry Coffey claims his first Group 1 win in the Oaks

There’s no doubt the feel good moment of the year goes to Harry Coffey after his perfect ride on the Darren Weir trained Sopressa in the Group 1 Schweppes Oaks, which gave the young 22 year-old hoop his first ever Group 1 victory.

After being installed as the equal favourite, Sopressa drifted from $5 to $6.50 but jumped beautifully from the inside draw and had the perfect sit in fourth on the rails. At the turn, Coffey brought the filly off the rails and started a perfectly timed run to hit the lead at the 100m and hold off the fast finishing Sheezdashing and Miss Admiration.

The win was made even more special that Coffey rode Sopressa for Darren Weir, who Coffey has known all his life. Weir gave Coffey his first winner, first senior winner, first Stakes winner and now his first Group 1 winner. It was a fantastic start to Day 1 of the UBET Festival of Racing and a moment that not many who were there on the day will forget in a very long time.

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