Despite having missed out on the Cox Plate dream at Moonee Valley last weekend, European galloper Gailo Chop has produced a very gutsy performance to claim victory in the Group 1 Mackinnon Stakes (2000m) at Flemington.
The five year-old gelding from the Antoine de Watrigant stable was able to see of strong challenges made by 2014 Caulfield Cup runner-up Rising Romance and the John O’Shea trained Contributor in the final stages of the home straight before going on to salute the judges by half a length with jockey Ben Melham aboard.
The race was ran to suit the French galloper who drew barrier four and slotted along the fence before taking over the running from the Darren Weir trained Stratum Star early on.
Melham made his move at the 400 metre-mark, shooting clear of Stratum Star before engaging in a fierce battle with Rising Romance at the 300 metre-mark. Rising Romance then headed Gailo Chop at the 100 metre post before the winner was able to fight back and grit his way to a tough win whilst other runners Magic Artist, Contributor, Set Square and Ecuador continued to make late ground in the dying stages.
It proved to be a memorable day for connections of Gailo Chop with the victory awarding trainer Antoine de Watrigant the first Group 1 success of his career. In a post-race interview de Watrigant stated how happy he was with the result and how glad he was that the win was in Australia.
“I’m very happy. It’s my first Group One” de Watrigant said.
“…I’m very happy to win in Australia for the Australian owners.”
De Watrigant also went on to say how the Flemington track may have suited his horse better than the smaller course at Moonee Valley, with the Flemington racecourse more similar to the racetracks used back in France.
The decision to back up Gailo Chop in the Mackinnon Stakes following his Cox Plate run the week before proved to be the correct one with other runners who took the same path not having the same luck as the French galloper. The Paul Beshara trained Happy Trails and Pornichet of the Gai Waterhouse stable were both disappointing in their runs after being well fancied in betting prior to the race.
Gailo Chop may now line up in next Saturday’s Emirates Stakes over the mile at Flemington.