By HARRY CLARKE
JACK Bruce’s hopes to run his star gelding Axe at the Gold Coast on Magic Millions day are boosted following the horse’s emphatic victory in the Audi Centre Toowoomba Weetwood handicap.
Bruce had told the Caller last week that a good alley would have put the 6-year-old, which he purchased online for $35,000, in prime position for the biggest event on Toowoomba’s racing calendar.
Odds drifted considerably after Axe drew barrier 14, but a gutsy ride by jockey Samantha Collett saw the gelding fight off late charge by Tony Gollen’s Mass Destruction and Garibaldi to take home the lion’s share of $150,000 in prize money.
“The wide barrier made it really difficult but she (Collett) got across really easy, got the horse into a good rhythm and the rest is history,” Bruce said.
“If you can kick on the corner here you’re a good chance, and that’s what she did. It was a great ride by Sam Collett, she’s in good form and going really well.
“This is a time honoured race. Everybody west of Ipswich wants to win the Weetwood, so I’m very proud to do that and also very fortunate to have a such talented horse.”
Bruce had told the Caller last week: “My main aim (with Axe) is for the Magic Millions carnival next year, but between now and then we can hopefully pick the eyes out of what’s on offer in Queensland.”
Thousands of punters flocked to Toowoomba’s Clifford Park Racecourse for Weetwood day, which is as much a social highlight for the Garden City as it is its flagship race day.
Queensland Racing Minister Grace Grace was there to present the trophies and celebrate another successful day for the race club despite not having much success on the punt herself.
“It is marvellous. It’s been such a beautiful day. The weather has been perfect, the racing has been spectacular and what better than the grand final – the Weetwood here in Toowoomba,” she said.
“I’ve backed a few. I’ve had them in trifectas but unfortunately they didn’t come up.”
The Weetwood handicap was first run in 1895 and has remained Toowoomba’s premier racing event ever since, but on New Years Eve the turf club will put up far bigger prize money for inaugural King of the Mountain.
Modelled off The Everest race in Sydney, King of the Mountain will be a $750,000 slot race restricted to Queensland-bred and trained horses.
Racing Queensland CEO Brendan Parnell said the state’s racing body was delighted to work with the Toowoomba Turf Club to bring the Mort & Co King of the Mountain to life.
“A race for Queensland-bred horses only is a fantastic initiative, incentivising the local breeding industry and the highly vaunted QTIS scheme, which provides more than $12 million in prize money bonuses each year,” Mr Parnell said.
“We unashamedly want people to back Queensland, buy Queensland, and breed Queensland.”
Successful applicants for the King of the Mountain will be announced early next month.