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By Graham Potter | Sunday, February 27, 2022

The Hinged v Startantes thriller that went down to the very last stride in the Group 1 Surround Stakes at Randwick on Saturday was a great result for racing in Queensland.

Yes, Hinged, the short head winner, was another Chris Waller trained Group 1 winner … his one hundred-and-thirty-third to be exact … but it was also a Toowoomba triumph with the daughter of Worthy Cause having been sourced from the Garden City stable of trainer Michael Nolan by a large syndicate who purchased the now three-year-old and took her south to join Waller’s big string of horses.

Nolan had done phenomenally well with Hinged orchestrating a tremendous run of form during her two-year-old career which saw her complete her two-year-old season with a race record of five wins from seven starts … the last three of those victories coming in succession.

Nolan had progressed Hinged’s career through victories over distances ranging from 1200m to 1613m and on track surfaces from good, to soft, to heavy.

Those credentials opened up many options for Hinged moving forward making her an attractive catch for big buyers looking to enhance their racing portfolio and, with Nolan’s long-time client Dr Kim McCasker, the owner and breeder of Hinged retaining an percentage interest in the horse, that’s how she came to leave Toowoomba behind, … but she was still a Toowoomba raised, educated and well performed horse before the move and, like the more high profile Incentivise before her, she has continued to carry that flag wherever she has raced since then.

That’s why there was a section of the Queensland racing fan base cheering her home on Saturday, not least those associated with Hinged’s sire Worthy Cause, who stands at Clear Mountain Fairview, for whom Hinged provided a first Group 1 success.

All credit to Chris Waller for taking Hinged to this outstanding success.

But the roar of Queensland support was just as loud for Startantes, the narrowly beaten runner-up.

Trained throughout her career at Eagle Farm by Robert Heathcote, Startantes races in one of the most distinctive sets of silks in Queensland … the pink, black checks and sleeves … and she would be considered a true-blue Queenslander.

Startantes kicked off her three-year-old season with three successive wins, results which emboldened Heathcote to take her south to contest two Group 1’s … first the Golden Rose (where she finished sixth, when racing from the worst of the draw, less than three lengths behind In The Congo and Anamoe), and then the Darley Flight Stakes (where she finished third behind Never Been Kissed and Hinged).

There was two lengths between Hinged and Startantes in that race and they met under the same weight conditions in Saturday’s Surround Stakes with that differential being cut to a short-head.

And remember, while Queenslanders were enjoying the superb spectacle of the fighting, driving finish, many punters were still searching to try to find the two much-vaunted race favourites, Espiona and Fangirl (both Chris Waller trained runners) in the race, who they expected to see dominate the finish, but who were never in the hunt.

That is not to say that that Espiona and Fangirl won’t live up to their hype moving forward, but it was Hinged and Startantes who ruled the roost on Saturday.

These are two Queensland State of Origin horses doing Queensland proud.

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Photos: Graham Potter

Photos: Graham Potter
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