Mantra Lad proved himself Australia’s premier ‘half-miler’ after sensationally winning Australia’s richest ever race for stayers, the $143,000 Group 1 Radio Sport 927 Sandown Cup at Sandown Park tonight.
The reigning National Distance Champion was devastating in his heat win last week and was a popular pick after drawing favourably in box 8.
However Mantra Lad ($2.20F) began only fairly after Sirocco Hero ($16.60) flew the boxes to lead through the first turn. ‘Chad’ soon swept up to the early leader in the straight the first time, took the lead exiting the home straight and accelerated away to emphatically win the nation’s premier staying race.
Sirocco Hero was briefly headed for second by Lady Moscato ($11.50) but rallied to take the minor prize by 1.75 lengths.
“He actually dipped when the lids opened and I thought ‘oh no’,” said winning trainer Graeme Jose.
“When I saw the six in front I thought we had our work cut out, but by the time they went past the boxes again I knew he was back to his best.
“He actually ran home about four lengths faster than in his heat win (41.99), so if he had have jumped I reckon he could have given the record a shake.”
While Mantra Lad’s run was two tenths of a second off Total Denial’s long standing track record, his winning time of 42.00 smashed the previous race record (42.12, Total Denial), and equaled the record winning margin of 9.5 lengths.
One of Australia’s most versatile chasers, Mantra Lad, has been mixing his distances over the past six months, but will now focus on staying events.
“We’ll head to Brisbane (for the Gold Cup) and take on the best there, and all being well he’ll be staying over the rest of his career. Hopefully maybe one or two more big wins and we’ll have a stud dog.”
Jose was also full of praise for his family, Mantra Lad’s owners Martin and Fiona Hallinan, and his mate and boss Darren McDonald.
“He’s been such a great influence over the 12 months I’ve been working with him and the advice he gives me is just so sensational.”
In winning Australia’s richest ever staying race, Mantra Lad completed a unique double having also conquered Australia’s fastest sprinters in the 2008 winner-takes-all Group 3 Shootout, also at Sandown Park. The $100,000 first prize boosted his career prizemoney to $278,410.
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 won 15 of his 37 starts and has been placed on 11 occasions and with the $100,000 first prize for the Sandown Cup it took his current stake earnings to $278,410.
Listed below is the honour roll for the Sandown Cup the race has been won by many of the champion stayers of the past including AGRA Hall Of Famers Lizrene and Bold Trease. Plus the great stayers of their particular era Fawn Scout, Paul‟s Thunder, Corcoran, Raurimu, Boronia Blossom, Tonight‟s Wish, Osti‟s Joker, Bentley Babe, Arvo‟s Junior, Best Quoted and Sargent Major.
Sandown Cup Honour Roll
- 1982 Status Supreme B. Barrington 3 len x nk 44.32
- 1983 Lead Role D. Holmes 2 len x hd 43.96
- 1984 Raurimu K. Chalker 5 len x 3 len 43.41
- 1985 Tashla N. Renshaw Nk x ¾ len 44.00
- 1986 Bold Trease N. McCullagh 6 len x ns 43.84
- 1987 Bold Trease N. McCullagh 2 len x DH 43.59
- 1988 Bold Trease N. McCullagh 2 len x ½ hd 44.05
- 1989 Bold Trease N. McCullagh 1½ len x 1½ len 43.85
- 1990 Western Creole O. Lockett 8 len x ½ hd 43.84
- 1991 Pixie Eyes D. Stavropoulos ½ nk x ¾ len 44.15
- 1992 Village Stomper P. Newman ¾ len x 1 len 43.84
- 1993 Eliza Dylan W. Allars 3½ len x ½ len 44.01
- 1994 Top Sovereign J. Westerlo ½ hd x 3 len 43.74
- 1995 Keon Star R. Crisafi 1½ len x 1½ len 43.09
- 1996 Boronia Blossom R. Ball ½ hd x nk 42.79
- 1997 Tonight’s Wish A. Britton 2 len x ½ hd 42.49
- 1998 Red Mystique D. Mahoney ½ len x ½ len 42.46
- 1999 Smart Attitude D. Irwin 9½ len x ½ len 42.27
- 2000 Osti’s Joker S. Barker 4 len x ¾ len 42.26
- 2001 Bentley Babe P. Dapiran Hd x nk 42.54
- 2002 Jennev L. Britton ¾ len x 2¼ len 42.46
- 2003 Arvo’s Junior G. Arvanitis 1 len x 4¾ len 42.48
- 2004 Proven Lethal J. Thompson 3¾ len x 4¼ len 42.12
- 2005 Best Quoted J. Mooney 2½ len x 3¾ len 42.33
- 2006 Sargent Major P. Giles 1 len x 2¼ len 42.50
- 2007 NO RACE
- 2008 Chinatown Lad S. Whitney 4¾ len x nk 42.14
- 2009 Mantra Lad G. Jose 9.5 x 1.125 42.00