Macknuckle wins second Canberra Cup
The locals were cheering on Sunday as Macknuckle became just the fourth horse to claim back-to-back Canberra Cups.
The Bernie Howlett and Dwayne Dunn combination got the job done again with the Canberra stayer bursting to the front in the straight to win the $200,000 Listed event by a half neck.
“It’s a big thrill, especially being the home town Cup,” Howlett said.
Howlett and the horse’s excited owners celebrated the back-to-back victory with some of the owners bursting into their own special victory song during the winners’ presentation.
Mackuckle ($4.60 fav) went into the race at his fourth run back from a spell and fitness was Howlett’s major worry ahead of the 2000m contest.
“I thought he might have been a run short,” Howlett said.
“I think his class prevailed in the end.”
The six-year-old was given the run of the race by Dunn just behind the speed and the Melbourne-based hoop produced Macknuckle at the right time as the field straightened for home.
He sprinted quickly to go past topweight Rock Kingdom, but the Gai Waterhouse-trained Group One winner rallied over the final 200 metres as Macknuckle started to feel the pinch.
As they hit the line Macknuckle was able to hold Rock Kingdom ($8) at bay with Fast Future ($9) finishing strongly to grab third, another long head away.
“He (Dunn) put him in a lovely position, the guy is a class rider,” Howlett said.
Macknuckle is likely to progress to the summer staying races in Sydney with the Christmas Cup at Rosehill and also the Summer Cup at Randwick on Boxing Day on the agenda.
Dunn said he was aware of the slight fitness doubt on Macknuckle which is why he positioned the gelding a little closer than his winning ride a year earlier.
“He’s only fallen in today but he’s done a great job and to win back to back is fantastic,” Dunn said.
“These sorts of horses really thrill you because they are very genuine.”
While the crowd welcomed the local win, the race certainly didn’t pan out the way another visiting Melbourne jockey, Michael Rodd, had hoped.
Rodd was dislodged from Rockpecker shortly after the start and the horse virtually took no part in the race.
“He spotted something in the centre of the racecourse, whether it was the TV or tote board and he shied left,” Rodd said.
“Lucky there were two horses on our outside or I might have gone through the fence.”