Regina Coeli has emulated her elder half-brother Al Garhood by becoming a dual winner of Warrnambool’s gruelling Grand Annual Steeplechase.
The winner of the 2015 Grand Annual, Regina Coeli led throughout under John Allen in Thursday’s 5500m test of stamina over 33 obstacles.
Sent off at $18, the mare toughed it out to score by two lengths from last year’s winner No Song No Supper ($9.50) with the heavily backed $3.30 favourite I’ll’ava’alf 3-1/2 lengths away third.
Al Garhood won back-to-back Grand Annuals in 2010 and 2011 after running second at his first attempt while his sibling finished sixth last year.
Following the success of Al Garhood, trainer Ciaron Maher and connections spotted his dam Alstomeria was for sale in foal, with Regina Coeli the result.
“We bought her unborn with a view to winning this race so to win it twice is unbelievable,” Maher said.
“This race is what this carnival is all about.
“I keep telling people you have never experienced a race until you’ve had a runner in the Grand Annual.
“For almost seven minutes you’re on the edge of your seat.
“Being born and bred in Warrnambool makes it all the more special.
“It’s a local race that I have grown up watching. It’s like the Melbourne Cup.”
Maher, who won last year’s Caulfield Cup with Jameka, was full of praise for Allen’s ride.
“He kept her flowing and she met her jumps well and that’s what wins and loses these big races,” Maher said.
“He walked the whole track before the race and you could see him up the hill. He was on the outside as it was quite heavy on the inside.”
Allen finished the carnival with seven winners, four over the jumps and three on the flat, and hopes the success can roll over to Group One rides in Adelaide on Saturday.
He partners the Darren Weir-trained Kenedna in the Australasian Oaks and Scarlet Billows in the UBET Classic.
“It’s been the best race meeting of my life with seven winners for the week and I hope I haven’t used up all the luck,” Allen said.
Racing Victoria stewards reported Lord Of The Song had abrasions after losing rider Brad McLean while Slowpoke Rodriguez had a laceration after dislodging Shaun Fannin at the final jump.
They also said Regina Coeli pulled up lame and was undergoing further assessment while No Song No Supper had a slow recovery after the gruelling race.