Champion reinsman Greg Sugars gave himself an early wedding present with a win on Flaming Flutter in the Group 1 2016 Ubet South Australian Pacing Cup (2230m) at Globe Derby Park on Saturday night.
Sugars, 30, will marry longtime partner Jess Tubbs on their property at Myrniong in Victoria next month.
“After 10 years I guess it was time to make it a bit more formal,” Sugars said.
Sugars again proved himself a star of the sulky with a well-judged drive on Flaming Flutter which was the driver’s second cup win and also which gave trainer Geoff Webster his fourth success in South Australia’s best race.
Sugars partnered the champion Smoken Up in 2012 while Webster’s previous winners were Ryans Day (1999), Mister Swinger (2010) and Mister Zion (2011). The driver also went one up on his father Ross, a harness Hall of Fame member, who only landed one SA Cup win on Murdock Miss in 1981.
A $1.80 favourite, Flaming Flutter raced outside the leader throughout before going clear in the home straight to score a one metre win from Hotasel ($14.50), trained and driven by John Justice, with Crusader Acey ($43.50) four metres away third and the leader Star Chamber a fading fourth.
Both Sugars and Webster remain proud South Australians who ply their trade in Victoria through necessity.
“It may not be the best race in the country, or even recognized properly interstate, but it is my hometown cup and will hold a very special place in my heart,” Sugars said.
Webster was the same.
“I always want to come across with horses for cup night because to win the cup is something very special,” Webster said.
Flaming Flutter’s win was achieved with a touch of sadness.
The six-year-old is owned by Ron Anderson in partnership with Neil Richmond and the estate of the late Garth Allen.
“Neil and Garth were great mates from school days and were in their 80s but unfortunately Garth passed away about three months ago,” Webster said, “it is disappointing that he was not here to see the horse win a major race.”
Webster also paid tribute to Sugars’ expertise.
“It was not ideal for Flaming Flutter to have sit in the death but the way Greg handled him in running I was confident he was going to be hard to beat.”
Sugars said it had not been ideal to sit parked throughout but he had been confident he could sit in the death and beat the leader Star Chamber ($8.10) which had kicked up from gate one.
“My concern was that there were going to be several mid-race burns which would not have helped,” Sugars said.
“However there was only one and really it wasn’t too bad so I was confident Flaming Flutter could win during the last lap, I just had to time my run and it worked out perfectly.
“Great credit has to go to Geoff and his team in Victoria led by ‘Skinny’ (Brenton Inwood) who South Australians know well.”
Such was the pace set by Nathan Ford on Star Chamber that the first four past the post were the first four throughout the race.
Ford got away with a moderate 46.8 lead time, then first two quarters of the last 1600m were 30.3 and 31.4 which meant it was always going to be tough for the backmakers.
The leaders sprinted up a final two quarters of 28.0 and 28.3 – again indicative of how hard it was for those at the rear of the field.
Hotasel was given a perfect run by ‘JJ’, another proud South Aussie who was chasing his third win in the race having been successful with Safe And Sound (2000) and Shakamaker (2002).
After sitting one-one, Hotasel was able to quite match the sprint of the winner but hit the line hard.
An eye-catching run was turned in by Tony Peacock-trained Barimah.
Driven by Damian Wilson, Barimah made the early attack from back in the field but had to give up after a short tussle and was eased back to last but in the home straight was noticed sprinting sharply between runners to finish fifth.
Images- Andrew Frackowski
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