Mantra Lad won the Group 1 Rapidvite National Distance Championship Final (720m) at Wentworth Park in Sydney on Saturday night at just his seventh staying start.
The boom Victorian stayer who was easily the youngest in the field at only 25 months of age, is a son of 2005 National Sprint Champion Pure Octane – who also achieved national glory at Wentworth Park.
Prepared by Graeme Jose of Catani, Mantra Lad has made a meteoric metamorphosis from sprinter to new kid on the staying block, to a national title since transferring to the ‘half mile’ only two months ago.
He finished fifth in the Group 2 AWM Distance Title at The Meadows on July 26 prior to equalling The Meadows 725 metre track record of 42.28sec in the National Distance CHampionship State Final on August 16.
Beginning well from his box three draw Mantra Lad was able to get the lead early and then proceeded to set new figures for the first two sections at Wenworth Park. Mantra Lad smashed the previous sectional records running 16.01 (previous record 16.10) and 24.98 (previous record 25.03) and it was that early pace which set the platform for his good win.
On a night where Chinatown Lad set new figures for the 720 metre Wentworth Park journey, Mantra Lad’s sectional records were very impressive and naturally he faded a little in the run to the line, winning in the good time of 42.30 and staving off the late finish of Rebel Angel by a neck.
Fallen Zorro was definitely the unlucky runner of the race getting cut out of a rails run by Rebel Angel who took her running through the catching pen the first time, just as Fallen Zorro was winding up to come after the tearaway leader Mantra Lad. But as we said in our National Distance Championship Preview “if there is any trouble behind him, Mantra Lad has the class to lead all the way” and that’s the way it panned out.
Mantra Lad ($4.25) defeated Rebel Angel ($15.00) by a neck, with Tasmanian staying siren Fallen Zorro ($5.00) one and a quarter lengths away third in 42.30sec.
Then followed: Risk It ($8.00, NSW), Miagi ($1.75F, NSW), Nicely Done ($31.00, Qld), Token Ned ($151.00, SA) and Tayza ($26.00, WA).
Miagi, who was widely touted as the probable winner and started favourite to take out the National Distance Championship, began awkwardly and never really travelled the whole 720 metre journey. Never a likely winning chance, he chased valiantly, obviously under duress; and class alone allowed him to finish fifth and as close to the placegetters as he did. Miagi’s injury woes are well known and it is now highly likely that Warren and Jill Harper will retire their champion stayer.
Miagi retires with the good record of 32 starts for nineteen wins, four seconds and four thirds for $162,325 prizemoney. But it was at Wentworth Park that he really excelled, starting on 14 occassions for 11 wins and two placings, winning the Group 2 Winning Edge Gold Cup, the Group 2 Sydney Cup and the Group 1 Association Cup at the track.
Mantra Lad’s win provided Victoria with its sixth NDC win in the past nine years and the highly underrated Rebel Angel, trained by Elsie King of Sulky, made it a Victorian quinella – the first since the Peter Giles-trained duo Tip Top Tears and Gate Way at Sandown Park in 2001.
Owned by astute New South Wales breeders Martin and Fiona Hallinan, Mantra Lad notched his eighth win (with three seconds and one third) from 17 starts. The $50,000 first prize catapulted his stakes to $80,040.
Mantra Lad joins a pantheon of staying greats inscribed on the NDC honour roll.
National Distance Championship Full Honour Roll
- 1969 Wentworth Park Amerigo Lady (Vic) 790 Yds. 43 7/16
- 1970 Sandown Park Sargood (Vic) 785 Yds. 44.00
- 1971 Hobart Saki Dasher (Vic) 737 Yds. 40.00
- 1972 Haroldpark Bubble’s Luck (Vic) 732 Mts. 43.40
- 1973 Gabba He’s Some Boy (Vic) 704 Mts. 43.09
- 1974 Anglepark Corcoran (Vic) 731 Mts. 44.56
- 1975 Gabba Dotie Wilson (NSW) 704 Mts. 41.66
- 1976 Anglepark Bolta’s Gift (Vic) 731 Mts. 44.66
- 1977 Haroldpark Woolley Wong (NSW) 732 Mts. 43.58
- 1978 Hobart Dusty Jenny (NSW) 730 Mts. 43.30 Rec.
- 1979 Olympic Park Mary Marella (Vic) 732 Mts. 44.09
- 1980 Sandown Park All Promise (Vic) 718 Mts. 43.92
- 1981 Launceston Shamrock Jewel (Vic) 722 Mts. 44.87
- 1982 Adelaide Bay Road Queen (SA) 731 Mts. 44.03
- 1983 Hobart Ten Guitars (Vic) 725 Mts. 43.91
- 1984 Cannington Princess Baden (SA) 740 Mts. 44.32
- 1985 Launceston Melmade Gazza (SA) 722 Mts. 44.06
- 1986 Gabba Kirsty’s First (Qld) 704 Mts. 41.65
- 1987 Olympic Park Mystic Hope (Vic) 732 Mts. 44.29
- 1988 Wentworth Park High Intensity (Vic) 732 Mts. 42.93
- 1989 Angle Park Julep (SA) 731 Mts. 43.79
- 1990 Olympic Park Clean Machine (Vic) 732 Mts. 44.00
- 1991 Gabba Just A Charm (Qld) 704 Mts. 41.45
- 1992 Wentworth Park Pace Galore (Vic) 720 Mts. 42.57
- 1993 Cannington Billy’s Blondie (Qld) 740 Mts. 44.89
- 1994 Wentworth Park Miss Cruise (NSW) 720 Mts. 43.59
- 1995 Olympic Park Boronia Blossom (Qld) 732 Mts. 43.72
- 1996 Albion Park Boronia Blossom (Qld) 710 Mts. 42.23
- 1997 Angle Park Ibrox Park (NSW) 731 Mts. 43.17
- 1998 Cannington Paradise Street (WA) 700 Mts. 41.75
- 1999 Wentworth Park Kobble Creek (Qld) 720 Mts. 42.55
- 2000 Launceston Osti’s Joker (Vic) 743 Mts. 45.05
- 2001 Sandown Park Tip Top Tears (Vic) 715 Mts. 42.46
- 2002 Albion Park Boomeroo (Vic) 710 Mts. 41.61 (Rec)
- 2003 Angle Park Arvo’s Junior (Vic) 731 Mts. 42.66
- 2004 Cannington Classy Customer (NSW) 715 Mts. 42.31
- 2005 Wentworth Park Texas Gold (NSW) 720 Mts. 42.07
- 2006 Launceston Bothing (SA) 720 Mts. 42.49 (Rec)
- 2007 Meadows Flashing Floods (Vic) 725 Mts. 42.95
- 2008 Wenworth Park Mantra Lad (Vic) 720mts. 42.30