Punters were left reeling at Ballarat as a string of well-backed favourites crashed and burned on a day that a Kiwi combination came good to take the $500,000 feature, the Ballarat Cup, with the outsider Irish Flame.
Trained by the Mornington-based former New Zealand champion jumps jockey Brett Scott and ridden by the Kiwi champion rider Michael Walker, Irish Flame showed all of the toughness traditionally associated with New Zealand stayers to take an attritional Ballarat Cup in a driving finish after the race had been turned into a real stamina test by the front-running Inverloch and Pacodali, who had kicked for home some way out.
Irish Flame, a son of the NZ stallion Zed, showed grit and determination to hold on from the late arriving favourite Affair to Remember, trained on the Ballarat track by local handler Dan O’Sullivan, with the Tony McEvoy trained Game Keeper third, also at a big price. So frantic was the finish was that only half a length separated the first six.
The winner, who started at $18, was fortunate to make the field as he was the first emergency but got a run when Power Scheme was withdrawn.