Brungle Cry shines on super Sandown card
Report: Australia, Sunday
Sandown: Grand National Hurdle meeting
A patched up old crock, a brilliant young up-and-comer, a couple of crashes and the inevitable howls of protest.
One of jumps racing's biggest days had it all at Sandown on Sunday.
From mid-morning on Grand National Hurdle day the protesters took block outside the course, demanding the much-maligned branch of racing be banned and condemning all involved in it.
But a couple of brilliant performances on the racetrack from Bashboy in the Crisp Steeplechase (3900m) and Brungle Cry in the Grand National Hurdle (3900m), along with a heavy police presence, blunted the protest.
A former capable Flat runner when trained by Brian Mayfield-Smith, Bashboy ($2) followed a 20-length win on debut earlier this month with a 12-length victory in Sunday's feature in which only two horses finished, but none of the eight runners was injured.
Bashboy only resumed racing in May this year after being given two years off to recover from a tendon injury.
With little or no hope of being competitive again on the Flat, his owner Ian Macdonald sent the eight-year-old to Warrnambool trainer Ciaron Maher, who prepared him for his new career on the beach.
"He's just done so well since he came to us," Maher said.
"He's a lovely horse and enjoys being in training and getting out there and running."
Bashboy survived an anxious moment at the 10th of the 13 fences to take control at the top of the straight, extending his lead all the way to the line to beat Titch ($6).
"He was very close to coming down, but he's done a fantastic job for a relatively inexperienced horse," winning rider Steve Pateman said.
Two other runners suffered harmless falls while the remaining four starters were pulled up when out of contention.
Grand National Hurdle winner Brungle Cry comes from the other end of the jumps racing supply chain.
A four-year-old who had only three jumps starts before the National, he is regarded by his trainer Robert Smerdon, who prepared the outstanding Black And Bent, as potentially the best jumper he's trained.
"At this stage of their careers he's the better horse, he's amazing really," Smerdon said.
Brungle Cry ($1.65) led from the start and was never headed in his eight-length win in a race in which all six runners completed the course.
Smerdon described Brungle Boy as "the future of jumps racing".
"Young horses who are sound when they start out is what we need," he said.
"It's the tired, slow old flat horses that have given the sport a bad name."
Like Bashboy, Brungle Cry was ridden by Pateman who went without food or drink for much of the past week to ride at 64kg.
"It was worth it, a small price to pay to keep the game going," he said.
During the running of the Crisp Steeplechase, police arrested protest leader Elio Celotto after he refused a request to stop filming the race while on private property.