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By Graham Potter | Saturday, December 18, 2021

The five-year-old chestnut gelding McCovey Cove ($4.80) kicked off a highly successful Saturday afternoon for the David Vandyke stable when he edged out the $6.50 chance Bestie in a stride for stride battle to the line in a Colts, Geldings and Entires No Metro Wins Handicap at Eagle Farm over 1200m on December 18.

McCovey Cove jumped well from barrier two with Stephanie Thornton content to then settle the son of Husson just better than midfield at a comfortable gallop in the early part.

Approaching the home turn McCovey Cove raced in fourth spot, hard up against the rail just a touch over two lengths off the lead, and Thornton continued to save as much ground as possible as the field turned for home.

Thornton was still very patient early in the straight but got more urgent in the saddle halfway down the home stretch where McCovey Cove improved to join the early leaders Glock ($12) and Bestie in a three-way battle that would decide the race result.

Inside the final 100m Bestie got the better of Glock with McCovey Cove still coming on the inside and, when it mattered most, it was McCovey Cove who put his head out in the final stride to claim the narrowest of victories.

This was McCovey Cove’s fourth victory in twelve starts. He also has three second places and two third places to his credit. In all of those runner-up finishes McCovey’s Cove finished less than a half-a-length behind the winner.

Jockey Stephanie Thornton, who became the third rider to win on McCovey Cove, described how the race panned out from her point of view.

“He can be a tricky ride,” said Thornton. “You want him to be happy throughout … not too close but not too far off them. I didn’t want to give away the good alley but, at the same time, I didn’t want to be too close.

“Once we straightened up and I knew I was going to get a beautiful run down the inside, I still didn’t want to get there too early, so I waited as long as I could without waiting too long.

“I still didn’t know if we were going to get there, but those last fifty metres he knuckled down and he hit the line great.

“It was a fine line, but it doesn’t matter how far you win by as long as you get there.

“Credit to Dave (Vandyke). He placed the horse brilliantly. He bounced back from that Ipswich run and away we went.”

McCovey Cove was one of three winners for the Vandyke stable on the day. Gypsy Goddess (also at Eagle Farm) and Constant Flight (at the Gold Coast) won later in the day to play their part in the stable’s Saturday treble.

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Photos: Graham Potter
Photos: Graham Potter
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