Queensland trainer Liam Birchley has exacted revenge for being beaten in a tight finish to the Villiers Stakes almost a decade ago with Crack Me Up giving him the Group Two feature at Randwick.
But there were some anxious moments as Josh Parr set off to make every post a winner on Cabeza De Vaca who had a lead of between 10 and 12 lengths on the field at the top of the straight.
It was shades of Parr’s performance on Red Excitement in the Chelmsford Stakes when it took the champion Winx to run him down.
Crack Me Up is no Winx but Jason Collett got him going at the right time and the $6 chance ran down the leader to win by a long neck.
“He loves the big tracks but it worked out a bit unusually,” Birchley said.
“I was a bit worried when the other one was so far in front.
“I got beaten in this race by a short margin some years ago with Rags To Riches so this helps make up for that.”
Rags To Riches was beaten a nose and a short head in the 2008 Villiers behind Something Anything and Hey Elvis.
Parr said he may have pushed the button too soon on Cabeza De Vaca while Collett thought he was always hoping the leader would start to put in some short strides.
“There’s only so much you can do when a horse is 10 lengths in front,” he said.
“I had to be patient. About the 150 (metres) I thought I had a chance and at the 100 I was confident we would get there.”
Favourite Interlocuter ($4) made his run about the same time and finished a long head behind the runner-up.
The winner of the Villiers is eligible for a bonus for winning the Bernborough Handicap at Doomben but Birchley said the $1 million Magic Millions Cup (1400m) at the Gold Coast on January 13 was the plan.
The Villiers winner is also exempt from ballot on the Doncaster Mile in April and that is a target he and connections will look at.
“The Doncaster is definitely something to look at now he is guaranteed a start,” he said.
“But we’ll get to the Magic Millions first.”