There was a double celebration for local trainer Terri Morris when her hometown hero Jesaulenko claimed a thoroughly deserved feature race success in Saturday night’s Group 2 Topcat Video Traralgon Cup Final.
Runner-up in two of the most prestigious Group 1 events on the Australian calendar, the Melbourne Cup and Temlee, Jesaulenko, owned, trained and bred by Traralgon-based Morris, secured an overdue Group race triumph when edging out Fabregal in a thrilling finish to the Cup.
In addition to claiming the $47,000 winner’s purse, Jesaulenko’s stirring victory saw the son of Irish Derby victor College Causeway crowned the inaugural Gippsland Carnival’s sprinting champion, snaring the accompanying $14,000 bonus.
After being edged out in his heat, Jesaulenko started at $6.90 from box five and staged a titanic duel with ex-South Australian Fabregal, finishing the better in 30.15sec, his 28th win from 61 starts.
It was a case of second time lucky in the Traralgon Cup for Jesaulenko after he ran sixth to Pantera Nera in 2016 as the $3.30 favourite, with Terri Morris delighted his Group breakthrough came on home turf.
“He’s racing as well as ever but he is getting older and I was starting to wonder whether he would ever win a group race,” a delighted Morris said.
“He has run second in the Melbourne Cup and second in the Temlee. I can’t believe he’s finally done it.
“This being his home track is so special. You can’t get better than this.
“He was a bit underdone last week but he was just right tonight, and as soon as he began like he did I knew he’d be very hard to beat.
“I’m not sure where I’ll race him next. We won’t be taking him to Sydney for the Golden Easter Egg, but he will be going to McDonalds on the way home tonight and again for brekkie in the morning.”
Earlier in the evening Wayne Vassallo prepared the quinella in the other feature event on the program, the $10,000 to-the-winner Traralgon Distance Cup, with It’s A Fling defeating Group 1-winning kennelmate It’s A Bird.
It’s A Bird ($5.90) and It’s A Fling ($12.60) settled second and third respectively but It’s A Fling took the lead turning for home and the well-bred daughter of Collision and It’s A Blur defeated her half-sister by 2 ¾ lengths in 38.71sec.
“They’re both strong types and everything fell their way tonight, but in saying that they both ran very good races,” Vassallo said.
“They’re out of the same dam but have different sires. It’s A Bird has the runs on the board as she is a Group 1 winner, taking out the Bold Trease last year, but It’s A Fling has probably taken over as the better of the two.
“It’s so good to have stayers of their quality in the kennel. They aren’t probably in the top two or three stayers in Victoria, but they are very competitive.”
*This article was compiled by Gerard Guthrie and Andrew Copley.