Saturday was a day of racing firsts for Tasmania. The state had it’s first representative in the time honoured Cox Plate with The Cleaner carrying the hopes of the entire Apple Isle. While the gelding had no success at Moonee Valley, another Tassie racer in Buckle Up Wes was able to salute later that night, giving Tasmania their first success in the Group One Topgun at The Meadows.
While Buckle Up Wes may not have received as much publicity as his thoroughbred counterpart going into the invitation-only feature, he certainly commanded plenty of attention after his dazzling display from box five to claim the $150,000 winner’s cheque.
The Ted Medhurst trained chaser exploded from the boxes and crossed the field from the awkward draw with ease. After burning around the first turn the son of Collision and Everlong Bale set up a big break on his opposition heading down the back straight and cruised home to a three length victory.
Oakvale Destiny put in a massive run to claim second for Jeff Britton, with Awesome Project filling the trifecta back in third.
Making the victory even more remarkable was the fact that Buckle Up Wes went into the Topgun having not had a start in nearly two months due to injury. After the race Medhurst admitted that he was shocked at how much strength his star chaser showed in the latter stages, despite knowing that it’s usually one of his key traits.
“The ease of the victory surprised me. I was worried who was chasing him off the back straight because I thought if he was going to be vulnerable it would be coming off that bottom bend. But when he balanced up, he got going again, he is a deceptively strong dog”, Medhurst explained.
Buckle Up Wes recorded a neat 30.02 en route to winning the Topgun and, while it was a number of lengths off his 29.74 best at the track, Medhurst says he wasn’t too concerned and that there is still plenty of improvement in him.
“He is probably a couple of runs short of his peak but the race was on that date and we did our best to have him as good as we could for that night. Fortunately for us it worked out.”
“It’s nice to run quick times on top of a win in a Group One but it alters nothing in our minds about him. Sometimes these big races don’t produce the best times but they are still impossibly hard to win.”
Buckle Up Wes now boasts the outstanding record of 49 starts for 30 wins and 12 minor placings, including a stunning win in this year’s Group One Australian Cup at The Meadows. With prizemoney earnings now in excess of $550,000, the win certainly stamped him as one of the nation’s best of all time.
“Last night I think the whole of Australia realised how special he is. I think now he is a bonafide star and we are just so proud of him.”
“Going into the race we knew he didn’t have to do anything more for us, he has already been magnificent, so for him to perform the way he did was quite surreal. The feeling after the race was just tremendous.”
All things going to plan, Medhurst now hopes to have Buckle Up Wes back to peak fitness in time for $420,000 to-the-winner Group One Melbourne Cup, with heats kicking off on November 13 at Sandown Park.
In the meantime, Tasmania will continue to celebrate their historical victory, as will Medhurst, who remains in awe of his terrific speedster and the whole Topgun experience.
“It was wonderful and I wish everybody that participates in racing could experience it, I am very fortunate to have experienced it. It’s a dream come true.”
“The dog’s performance was remarkable in my opinion and it’s typical of Wes, he is an outstanding individual and he just produces all the time.”