Mantra Lad Finds Nine Lengths & McKenna Memorial

While Boozeroo took centre stage in the Group 1 Laurels, earlier in the night reigning Radio Sport 927 Sandown Cup winner Mantra Lad laid claim to being the best stayer in the country after running a stunning 41.91 to win the $36,000 Group 2 McKenna Memorial.

Sent out a $3.20 second favourite behind boom stayer Amity Bale ($2.10F), Mantra Lad sprung from box 5 and established a commanding lead through the first turn running 6.16 to the first mark.

Mantra Lad continued to widen the gap on his way to breaking the second and third split records running 15.74 and 30.52, opening an eight length gap on the field coming off the back straight.

Amity Bale finally made her move coming off the back straight to reduce the margin to 2.5 lengths, however Mantra Lad proved too good in the run to the line, stopping the clock in 41.91 – the second fastest time ever run at Sandown Park.

“The dog did the talking for me tonight,” said trainer Graeme Jose.

“He didn’t run too well last week but they’re not machines and it was just great to see him bounce back to his best tonight.”

Jose had a point too, as Mantra Lad had by his standards only gone ordinary in his heat running 42.52, but found the best part of nine lengths in just seven days to take out last night’s Group 2 McKenna Memorial final. You can watch the replay below.

The win was his fourth at Group level and took his career record to 17 wins from 41 starts and over $320,000 in prizemoney.

“All things being equal he’ll head to Brisbane for the $15,000 winner-takes-all Hawkins Media Solutions SuperStayers Invitational, then we’ll give him a month off and try again to represent Victoria in the National Distance Championship.”

Mantra Lad claimed the 2008 National Distance Championship at Wentworth Park.

Amity Bale’s second placing capped a frustrating night for master trainer Graeme Bate. Having made a rare trip to Sandown Park, Bate’s runners came second in both feature races – as well as three other races on the card – although he did enjoy success with Amelia Bale in the third race of the night.

Kulu Warrior ($6.70) battled away well to run third seven lengths behind the winner.

Behind the placed runners came 4th Oodles Rock ($18.80), 5th Hughes Bale ($56.20), 6th Bees Wax ($35.10), 7th Headley Bale ($8.00) and Octane Al ($40.30).

Mantra Lad is raced by the Martin & Fiona Hallinan he is a Red Fawn dog whelped July 2006 by Pure Octane from Al Fresco (Royal Pilgrim x Prize Dancer).

Mantra Lad has now won 17 of his 41 starts and has been placed on 13 occasions and with the $25,000 first prize for the McKenna Memorial it took his current stake earnings to $321,920.

The McKenna Memorial was first run in 1971 and acknowledges the contribution to the Sandown Club by legendary administrator Jack McKenna. McKenna came to Sandown and took the job of Club secretary in the 1940’s from Tatura in central Victoria. He had held the position of secretary of the Tatura Plumpton Coursing Club and he made a major impact after arriving in the city.

He was instrumental in the club’s advancement in many ways but importantly its move across the railway line and the purchase of the land of the current site. McKenna’s ability as an administrator is still to this day talked about in revenant terms and the sport and particularly Sandown will always be in his debt.

The honour roll listed below of past winners is a classy one it starts with National Distance Champ Saki Dasher trained by Aussie Rules superstar Bob Pratt and includes lasyt years winner Fallen Zorro. The list contains some of the best stayers of all time.

Group 2 McKenna Memorial Hounour Roll

  • 1971 Saki Dasher
  • 1972 Binica
  • 1973 Lizrene
  • 1974 Audiro
  • 1975 La Sierra
  • 1976 Bolta’s Gift
  • 1977 Miss O’Dare
  • 1978 Irish Temptress
  • 1979 Precious Charm
  • 1980 Tarmoor Eagle
  • 1981 Leader’s Jester
  • 1982 Supplier
  • 1983 Quick Pulse
  • 1984 Sheila’s Teresa
  • 1985 Doris Lee
  • 1986 Plunderer
  • 1987 High Intensity
  • 1988 Lady Paragon
  • 1989 Rules
  • 1990 National Honour
  • 1991 Pleasure
  • 1992 Pace Galore
  • 1993 Havadip
  • 1994 Minyama
  • 1995 Keon Star
  • 1996 Wiljaver
  • 1997 Sam’s Idol
  • 1998 Totally Ablaze
  • 1999 Kobble Creek
  • 2000 Osti’s Joker
  • 2001 Pearl Larricki
  • 2002 Boomeroo
  • 2003 Arvo’s Junior
  • 2004 Arvo’s Athena
  • 2005 Malfoy
  • 2006 Token Arrow
  • 2007 Miss Grub
  • 2008 Fallen Zorro
  • 2009 Mantra Lad

2009 Group 2 McKenna Memorial Final Replay