Few horses peak at start number 62 but Happy Go Plucky has done just that, upstaging his more fancied rivals to claim his first stakes win in the Listed Ipswich Cup.
The seven-year-old has been a grand campaigner for his Gold Coast trainer John Gilmore but his previous career highlight was a Grafton Cup triumph two years ago.
Sent out a $21 chance for Saturday’s 2150m feature, Happy Go Plucky enjoyed a good trail behind a solid speed and kept finding for Stephanie Thornton to fend off So You Win ($4.20) by a neck with Flash Aah ($15) another long head away.
Gilmore has endured a tough period after undergoing a hip replacement but was thrilled to see Happy Go Plucky land his tenth, and most significant, career win.
“He has won every year, two-year-old, three-year-old, four-year-old, five-year-old, six-year-old and seven-year-old. He just keeps winning,” Gilmore said.
“A friend of mine said to me the other day, if you send him to Melbourne, he’ll win a Grand National.”
Gilmore, who has just five horses in work, had no grand celebrations planned.
“I’ll probably go home and have an early night. I’ve been up pretty early this morning. I might just have a beer, that’ll do me,” he said.
Thornton was thankful to pick up the mount on Happy Go Plucky and said it had been hard getting quality rides during the Brisbane winter carnival given the influx of interstate jockeys.
“It’s sometimes tough to get on those shorter-priced rides during the carnival but I’m trying to make the most of the opportunities I’m getting,” Thornton said.
“He switches off and gives himself every chance to finish off. I felt like the winner at the top of the straight, I just needed him to hold them off and he did.”
While Happy Go Plucky took out the feature staying race at Ipswich, it was emerging galloper Incentivise who stamped himself as the horse to follow from the meeting.
The lightly-raced four-year-old firmed into $26 for the Caulfield Cup after annihilating his rivals in the Provincial Stayers Final (2500m) by 9-1/2 lengths.
Trained by Steve Tregea, Incentivise will be transferred to Peter Moody for a spring carnival campaign.