Peaked for cup glory

LET THE PARTY BEGIN: Thrill Kill's Mount Gambier cup victory last Friday at Glenburnie gave trainer Peter Hardacre his first win in the event and sent the gelding's many local owners into part mode which started at the cup presentation. Picture: ELISABETH CHAMPION

By David Gilbert

SOUTH Australia’s most travelled stayer Thrill Kill produced his very best when it mattered most to win last Friday’s $70,000 2050 metre Mount Gambier Gold Cup.

When it comes to competing in country cups, Thrill Kill had been ultra consistent, including recent seconds in the Kangaroo Island and Port Lincoln cups, but his placings have far outweighed his wins in the past 15 months.

To the absolute delight of his lower South East owners, Thrill Kill put it all together last Friday to win the richest race ever run in the Limestone Coast.

Thrill Kill is trained at Murray Bridge by Peter Hardacre who started out his training career out at Yahl and Friday’s cup victory certainly meant plenty to the young mentor.

Apprentice Margaret Collett played her part by giving Thrill Kill ($5-$7) the run of the race in third spot and it was obvious as far as 800 metres from home that the gelding was going to play a major hand in the finish.

When Collett started riding for the Hardacre stable last year, Hardacre told me, “don’t worry about Maggie, she can ride and is a rider of the future”.

In a stirring finish, Thrill Kill wore down the leader Khoekhoe in the final furlong to win by three quarters of a length with the local performer Red Patrol a gutsy third.

For a horse that had not raced for nearly three months, Red Patrol was the eye-catching run and looks set for a good autumn.

“It’s great to come back and win the cup and I want to keep supporting the Mount Gambier racing club and get it back to the good old days of Mount Gambier racing,” Hardacre stated as he was swamped by well wishers.

“Mount Gambier was my home for 10 years and it was a bit sad to leave.

“Thrill Kill is bred just down the road and he has a great bunch of local owners.

“It will be a big night in Mount Gambier tonight.”

A chuffed part owner Mark Thompson, a former Mount Gambier Racing Club vice president who bred the gelding, added “we are all Mount Gambier people and it’s a dream come true”.

The excitement of the occasion was not lost on passionate part owner Robbie Ransom either, who was on duty as a security officer at the races.

His working day ended abruptly when Thrill Kill hit the line as he immediately went into celebration mode with his other owners..

“It looks like I am down one staff member for the rest of the day,” Ransom’s boss Merv Heemskerk happily admitted.


In what was a first for Mount Gambier cup day, female jockeys dominated the program and won all eight races.

Leading the way were apprentices Jordyn Weatherley and Margaret Collett, both with trebles, while senior jockey Stacey Metcalfe and Murray Bridge trainer Justin Pickering registered doubles.

It was a personal best for the Warrnambool based Weatherley while Collett’s career continues to forge ahead here in South Australia.

The winning spree for female jockeys continued at the Streaky Bay non-tab meeting on Saturday when they rode all six winners.

Mount Gambier trainers, who normally shine on cup day here, had to be content with just the two winners.

The Bob and Kane Post combination had their first winner of the Limestone Coast season when Getonit ($19-$16) resumed from a seven-week spell to win the 1200-metre 0-56 handicap.

It was not the start that quadrella punters wanted, as Getonit had not won for just over 12 months and the seven year old gelding’s three career wins have been well spaced and all been in the month of March.

In recent years, we have come to expect the Wayne Walters stable to have a winner at a Mount Gambier meeting.

It happened last Friday, but it took until the last couple of strides in the last race to come to fruition when Drink Then Kiss ($6) gunned down Snaptof which seemingly had the race in his keeping 100 metres from home.

The Sue and Jason Jaensch stable have struck form in recent weeks and the outsider Victory Bandit ($41-$51) gave them another winner in the 1550-metre Blue Lake handicap.

It was a ride of the day effort from Metcalfe, as she brought the mare from mid field and elected to go for an inside run at the 300-metre mark which was probably the difference between winning and losing.


THE promotion and advertising leading up to Mount Gambier cup day was exceptional, possibly the best ever seen for a race meeting in this region.

The official attendance of 1,500 (were there really that many people there?), marginally up on last year, was extremely disappointing, to say the least, considering weather conditions were perfect.

The club deserved an attendance more than twice that number given the amount of marketing that went into the day.

It means Mount Gambier now lags well behind the four other provincial clubs (and Kangaroo Island) when it comes to cup day crowds.

Of concern is that the 20-40 year old age bracket are not supporting the club like they once used to when cup day crowds were constantly around 3,500.

There are various theories being spruiked around town as to why Mount Gambier cup day has lost its appeal.

Mine is that it all started after the 2017 cup when the club opted to move cup day from a successful and proven autumn/winter formula to an early December date and then switched it again to late March/early April.

The then president John Fartch stated the club wanted to boost cup day figures from 3,500 to 7,000, a move that has badly backfired so far.

Track manager David Shepherdson and his staff should be on cloud nine as they did a terrific job to have the track, the grounds and surrounds in top condition.


THE local cups juggernaut continues this weekend with the traditional Easter Sunday Penola cup meeting.

Once again, it is a family orientated day with plenty of free entertainment for the younger generation including kids races on the racecourse and a visit from the Easter bunny.

Field numbers are excellent with the first race at 12.40pm and the last at 4.50pm.

After Penola, the last cup meeting for the Limestone Coast racing season is here at Mount Gambier on Sunday, May 26 for the Millicent Racing Club.


LOCAL reinsman Brent Howard discovered the highs and lows of harness racing early in the program on Tuesday night at the Greenwald Paceway.

After being tipped out of the sulky in the opening race from Auckland Miss, Howard bounced back to drive the winner of the second race 35 minutes later.

On this occasion, luck was on his side as Smart Play ($3.10-$4.20) ended up behind the leader after the early leader Give Us A Wink left the pegs, allowing Howard to then use the sprint lane in the home straight to bring up successive wins for the seven-year-old mare.

Visiting trainer/driver Zac Steenhuis had a double, as did trainer Rebecca East and driver Jackie Barker.