Just 40 minutes after Verry Elleegant gave Chris Waller his 132nd Group 1 victory, Hinged added one more to the tally with a tenacious victory in the Group 1 Surround Stakes at Royal Randwick.
Waller trained both Espiona ($2.60F) and Fangirl ($3.50) in the Group 1 or 3YO Fillies, but it was his outsider who saluted at $10 odds in the 1400m event.
It was an emotional victory for both jockey and trainer, as Brenton Avdulla returned to the saddle just seven days ago after a life-threatening race fall in 2021.
“It was a scary day, the day he (Avdulla) fell – it sent shivers through my spine,” the winning trainer said.
“It was the 200m mark here at Randwick. He is an amazing athlete. He has got himself back in a good position, he has done it properly, he hasn’t rushed things back. He is just a real good sportsman, so well-deserved.
“It was a good effort the way he rode the horse, saved a bit of energy.
“The horses out the back were really struggling turning for home and he shot through and was brave late – terrific effort by a nice horse.
“I thought her run first-up was amazing. Kathy O’Hara rode her on that day and said, ‘she has come back well, she will win some good races’.”
HINGED HANGS ON IN THE SURROUND 👏
Welcome back @brentonavdulla!
— SKY Racing (@SkyRacingAU) February 26, 2022
Hinged has been with Waller for a bit over six months, after leviathan owner Brae Sokolski purchased her from the Toowoomba-based Michael Nolan.
The daughter of Worthy Cause has gone from strength-to-strength since joining Australia’s leading stable, which she had to do in order to beat fellow Queenslander, Startantes.
The Rob Heathcote-trained filly surged late under Jason Collett, but it wasn’t enough, going down by half a head.
Avdulla got plenty of his mount, delivering him with a fairy-tale comeback to the sport.
“Pretty emotional week,” he said.
“It’s been well documented through the week about my comeback but six months ago you are thinking ‘is that all it?’
“That bit of self doubt that you might not come back and if you do come back how are you going to come back? Are you coming back at your best? It wasn’t until the last couple of weeks I really started to feel good.
“Just blessed to get some great opportunities. I haven’t had many rides but I’ve been going to the races all this week just with a couple of rides but they’re chances for good trainers. Today was the same, I ended up with four rides but I knew two or three of them were going to be right in the money.
“Very thankful to Chris, I think that’s my third Group 1 winner for him now. James can’t ride them all. Very special moment.”
HERE’S WHAT THE BEATEN JOCKEYS HAD TO SAY:
- 2nd: Startantes – Jason Collett: “Shot through like I was going to win.”
- 3rd: Espiona – James McDonald: “She’s running extremely well at the highest level. Just inexperience – she’s very new.”
- 4th: Heresy – Sam Clipperton: “Great run. Just a shame it is wet.”
- 5th: Fangirl – Hugh Bowman: “She wasn’t 100% confident in the ground.”
- 6th: Hope In Your Heart – William Pike: “Nice effort. Snuck up the inside. Did well.”
- 7th: Four Moves Ahead – Nash Rawiller: “I thought she bounced back well from last time. Will improve again. Turned up today and ran a fair race.”
- 8th: Jamaea – Brock Ryan: “Flopped out of the gates. Hated the track but still did well to find the line the way she did.”
- 9th: Shihonka – Rachel King: “A good tough run.”
- 10th: Never Been Kissed – Regan Bayliss: “Pass mark. Just wasn’t 100% confident in the ground.”
- 11th: Zouzarella – Chad Schofield: “She ran OK. We planned to ride her quietly but just too far back.”
- 12th: Sweet Ruby – Jay Ford: “She really struggled in the ground today.”
- 13th: Larkspur Run – Glyn Schofield: “Enjoyed a nice run. Travelled keenly. Didn’t finish.”
- 14th: Tilianam – Tim Clark: “Had a lovely run. Just not finishing her races off.”
- 15th: I’m Divine – Tom Sherry: “Struggled in the ground but will be better next prep.”