The Kiwis got the cash in Sunday’s Brendan Drechsler Hurdle (3500m) at Racing.com Park as trainer Andrew Campbell’s Gobstopper led all the way to take out the A$100,000 feature. The six-year-old son of Tavistock, a younger brother of dual Hong Kong Horse of the year Werther, looked under siege when Euroman and former Kiwi Killarney Kid loomed at the top of the straight but navigated the final two jumps perfectly to run out a two-length winner.
Killarney Kid faltered at the second last hurdle and was immediately pulled up by rider Steven Pateman. Initial reports suggest the Patrick Payne-trained galloper suffered no serious injuries in the incident. Gobstopper was steered to victory by Welsh-born, New Zealand-based jockey Emily Farr, who was delighted to win a feature race in Victoria with the former Group 3 New Zealand Cup (3200m) winner.
Farr, who was runner-up aboard Crafty Cruiser in last year’s Jericho Cup at Warrnambool, is the only licensed female jumps jockey in Australia. “He did the same in the New Zealand Cup,” Farr said of her front-running tactics. “The stamina of him is just incredible and he can run 13s (13-second furlongs) all day. “It’s only his second ever hurdle start so for him to jump those last three hurdles as well as he did, under pressure, it shows how good a horse he is. “There’s been a lot of work put into him so it’s great to see it come off.”
Some indifferent form since his New Zealand Cup triumph had seen Campbell trial Gobstopper over fences to sharpen him up but he had been reluctant to commit to a hurdle start until lining up for his initial run over hurdles at Te Aroha back in June, following the advice of Farr. “We were a bit lucky that Killarney Kid knuckled at the second-to-last, but it worked out really well,” Campbell said. “It had been five weeks since he won at Te Aroha and my biggest concern was fitness, but he is a clean-winded horse. “It was a great ride and he has come through the race well.”
Gobstopper will now be aimed at the A$250,000 Grand National Hurdle (4200m) at Sandown on August 4. “Emily will stay over and look after him,” Campbell said. “We were always going to have a crack at the Grand National if he went well on Sunday and win, lose or draw he will go home and go in the paddock.” Campbell deflected much of the credit for the success of the lightly-tried jumper to Farr. “She loves that horse, it has been her pet since she has been riding him and I am only the name on the bit of paper, she does all the work.” Sunday’s victory now has Gobstopper two from two over the hurdles and brandishing a career record of eight wins from 33 starts and over NZ$300,000 in stakes earnings.