Zavite wins Launceston Cup
There was drama aplenty before, during and after Wednesday’s Group Three Launceston Cup won by the Anthony Cummings-trained Zavite who led most of the way.
On the way to the course Zavite played up in the float and took skin off both his hips.
"There was a bit of a concern at first that he might have been a bit lame so we kept the horse walking," Cummings’ Melbourne stable foreman Andrew Benyan said.
"It was pretty high tension since we got here.
"I took him to the wash bay and washed him down and he wasn’t sore."
The stayer wasn’t cleared to race by stewards until he did his preliminary on the way to the barrier for the $300,000 2400m feature.
"The vets were all over it and it was touch and go for a while, but the horse was sound. It was just lucky that the horse is tough," Benyan said.
Easy in the bookmakers’ ring due to the pre-race drama, Zavite ($4.30) travelled beautifully in the early stages of the Cup behind the $160.90 bolter and race leader Spokmann who, turning out of the straight the first time, suffered a massive internal haemorrhage and collapsed and died on the track.
Zavite and the rest of the field managed to negotiate their way around the stricken horse at which point top jockey Nash Rawiller made the winning move, taking the Zabeel six-year-old to the front from the grey Centurytwentyone.
The 2007 Group Two Queen Elizabeth Stakes (2500m) winner at Flemington stayed in front for the rest of the trip to beat the gallant Centurytwentyone ($5.90) by three-quarters of a length with last year’s winner Ista Kareem ($15.40) a neck away third.
"When I cantered him to the barrier the further he went the better he felt," Rawiller said.
"Obviously it wasn’t an ideal situation but he’s just racing with such great heart that he can overcome those sorts of things.
But there was more drama to follow with stewards questioning Benyan regarding any treatment given to the gelding after the incident in the float due to a complaint from an owner of the runner-up.
"They thought some purple spray had been put on the horse and the stewards had a look at it," Benyan said.
"I can guarantee there was no purple spray put on the horse. It was a superficial wound and it did look a bit purple but I’m tipping it was bruising."
After being satisfied no spray had been used, stewards declared correct weight.
Zavite and the runner-up Centurytwentyone, prepared at Normanville in South Australia by Dennis O’Leary, are set to have a rematch in the Group Two $400,000 Adelaide Cup (3200m) at Morphettville on March 9.
"I’d love to ride him in the Adelaide Cup and I’d like to see him run in a Caulfield Cup next spring. He’s won a nice race here today and ran second the other day in the Hobart Cup," Rawiller said.
Gotta Keep Cool ($4.70), who narrowly prevailed over Zavite at Hobart, disappointed today when finishing seventh.
Reputable ($4.20 fav) finished fourth with Saval Prince ($20.50) the first Tasmanian horse home in fifth place and Hobart Cup placegetter Dream Pedlar ($10.20) sixth.
By Mark Ryan