Champion trainer Darren Weir has had to sit through a protest hearing before celebrating the win of Stratum Star in the $1 million Magic Millions Trophy (2200m) at the Gold Coast.
Weir produced one of his best training feats to get Stratum Star ($3.60) to beat Feltre ($19) by a neck.
Stratum Star was having his first start in six weeks after winning the Group One Kingston Town Classic (1800m)on December 3.
The five-year-old was also carrying 61kg and had never raced further than 2000m.
“I was worried about the big weight and the distance. But I told Damian to get off the fence at some stage and he did that before coming deep in the straight,” Weir said.
Before Weir could accept the deserved accolades, Micheal Hellyer on Feltre fired in a protest against Damian Lane alleging interference at the 370m mark.
Hellyer was headed to Toowoomba races after winning an earlier race on Irish Constabulary when he was called back to replace Paul Hammersley who couldn’t make Feltre’s weight.
He told the inquiry he had been going for a run between Stratum Star and Boom Time when Stratum Star moved out and took his running.
“You can see I have had to take hold and it cost me a length when I have been beaten a neck,” Hellyer said.
But Lane responded that Hellyer had never been committed to the run.
“We have held them to the line in the straight,” Lane added.
Stewards agreed and dismissed the protest.
It was a bitter pill for Feltre’s owners Bill and John Andrews who also saw Feltre run second in last year’s race when his jockey was fined for celebrating a win before the line.
To add to the irony, Bill Andrews part-owns Scales of Justice who was a nose second to Stratum Star in a controversial finish to the Kingston Town Classic.
Victoria-based Weir has only targeted the Magic Millions carnival in recent years and won last year’s Magic Millions Cup with Lucky Hussler.
“My staff down at our Warrnambool complex have done a great job with Stratum Star,” Weir said.
“He has done plenty of work and had three trials in a week.”
“They got him very fit for today.”
Craig Williams who rode the favourite Boom Time ($3.40) said the horse was bit a fresh in the run and struggled the right-handed way of going first time.