Ted Medhurst is a legendary trainer in the Apple Isle, and deservedly so. He knows the capabilities of his charges and he seems pretty clued up when it comes to the type and quality of opposition he might face.
I guess this is why he became only the second trainer from Tasmania to manage to get a finalist in the prestigious Sydney Cup when his black bitch Bell Haven annexed the first heat of the race on Saturday night.
Having only her 12th start at a stayers’ journey, Bell Haven narrowly accounted for the seasoned He Knows Uno and the speedy Victorian Irma Bale. It was her sixth win from those 12 outings and her 17th in 35 career efforts.
Bell Haven’s time of 42.69 would prove to be the fastest of the two heats, although not by what would be called a significant margin.
The second heat fell to Hotwire in 42.74 who downed Buddy Right and Mr Caluela.
The heat was Bell Haven’s second start over 720 metres at Wentworth Park. She finished fifth there on 8 September, nine and a half lengths behind He Knows Uno.
This followed her eye-catching three and a half lengths fourth to West Australian star Miata in the Hobart final of the National Distance Championship on 25 August.
The Sydney Cup has a long and prestigious history, being one of the four major stayers trophies held in the harbour city.
This year marks the 50th running of the Sydney Cup which has been run in the same format, two heats and a final over the longer trip, since 1963 when it was won by Wally’s Best.
A few of the true champions to have won the race include Rose Moss (1966), Zoom Top (1968), Miss High Lo (1973 & 1974; the only dual winner), National Lass (1985), Kirsty’s Charity (1988), Trojan Tears (1993), Raven Kelly (1994), Ringside Fire (1997), Kobble Creek (1999), Pearl Larricki (2001), and Miagi (2007).
Of the previous 49 runnings of the Sydney Cup only once has a Tasmanian trainer been represented. That was Shane Whitney who prepared not one, but two finalists as recently as 2008 when he had the brilliant littermates Chinatown Lad and Fallen Zorro engaged.
As it happened, Fallen Zorro ran third and Chinatown Lad fourth behind Others Quoted.
Bell Haven gives Tasmania only its third finalist in the event but, after drawing box six, she faces quite a task. Irma Bale is drawn to lead after coming up with the coveted red. The rest will have to run Irma Bale down it would seem and there’s no doubt she’ll be right at her best for the $25,000-to-the-winner event.
The only finalist from the 2011 Sydney Cup to make it through to this year’s race is Platinum Playboy. He was sixth to Key To Eden last year and it would be a surprise to see him go much better this year.