Victoria’s best horse may have been in Sydney on Derby day with champion jockey Hugh Bowman declaring I’m Thunderstruck the next big thing in Australian racing after winning the $7.5 million Golden Eagle at Rosehill on Saturday.
A small team of Sydney horses dominated the traditional day at Flemington, winning six of nine races, including Colette taking the Empire Rose and Everest also-ran Home Affairs winning the Coolmore Stud Stakes for the breeding giant.
Hugh Bowman on I’m Thunderstruck wins the Golden Eagle.Credit:Getty
But there wasn’t a more determined or classy win in the country than I’m Thunderstruck’s, surging over the top of Count De Rupee.
“He’ll be one of the headline horses in the country for the next couple of years,” Bowman said of I’m Thunderstruck. “Just amazing. I’ve been riding a long time and I’ve ridden some amazing horses as we all know and the feeling that I got today is what it’s all about.”
I’m Thunderstruck completed the plan of trainer Mick Price and Michael Kent junior, backing up his Toorak Handicap victory with a final surge to break the heart of apprentice Brock Ryan, who produced the ride of his life on Count De Rupee.
When he went for home and booted the South Coast four-year-old clear at the 200-metre mark by a couple of lengths, Ryan was being proclaimed the winner.
Hugh Bowman returns to scale on I’m Thunderstruck. Credit:Getty
“I had to go then because he was there to win, and he put a couple of lengths on them so quickly,” Ryan said. “But he just floated for a couple of strides when we got clear, that’s him, and that other horse came so quickly.
“I don’t know what else I could have done. I want to cry.”
As Count De Rupee made his surge, Bowman was waiting for the run to emerge for I’m Thunderstruck. When it did, he exploded to win by a long head with Vangelic 1½ lengths away in third.
Bowman made his experience count and didn’t panic when he found himself in a tight position waiting for the run as Count De Rupee surged away from him.
“All I could do is get my horse balanced and I knew he would let down because he had just been so present throughout the race,” Bowman said.
“The only work he did was making my way clear and while I was allowing my horse to get balanced Brock had clear space.
“He basically put the race away. He just had a very good one chasing him in I’m Thunderstruck.”
Mick Price was delighted to get a Sydney success after a day of pain in his home town.
“[I have $7.5 million race] but I’ve lost about eight here today,” he said at Flemington. [I’m Thunderstruck] always has to fight doesn’t he?
“He would have won by further, and cleaner and easier, if he’d have had a nice run in the race but always he’s had to fight his way out and then finish off.
“It’s like the Toorak, the horse was there and the jockey was there for him.”
Count De Rupee’s father-son training combination Robert and Luke Price, who are not related to the winning trainer, were crestfallen.
“I thought we had [won it]. I started to cheer and then saw Hughie was coming,” Luke Price said. “It might have taken a very good horse to beat us.
“His time will come, that is the biggest cheque we have never won and I’m sick.
“We always planned to go here and then The Gong at home in three weeks. We’ll do that, I might be over getting beaten by then.”
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