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By Graham Potter | Sunday, February 4, 2024

It was so close to a perfect result ... but in the end there was no cigar just a lingering thought of what might have been.

Stephanie Thompson had one ride at Eagle Farm on Saturday ... just a fleeting return to the saddle before she joins her husband Ben on a plane to Hong Kong on Wednesday where he will take up a riding contract with the Hong Kong Jockey Club.

It was Stephanie Thompson’s first race ride since March 25, 2023. She had given birth to a son during her time away and you would have been forgiven if you had thought that a ten-month layoff might have left some ring rust on her race riding sharpness, but you would have been wrong.

Riding Magnus Bellagio for her father Glenn Thornton, a double-figure odds chance, Thompson all but pulled off a fairytale result.

In fact, she had two goes at it ... once on the track and once in the stewards’ room, but the second place she had to settle for on the track by the narrowest of margins was reaffirmed by the stewards following a protest hearing who, while acknowledging that the winner ‘Burning Bell shifted to a point whereby Magnus Bellagio raced in restricted room for a number of strides’ ... they ‘could not be comfortably satisfied that should the interference not have occurred that Magnus Bellagio would have finished in front of Burning Bell and therefore dismissed the protest.’

Brisbane’s leading apprentice Cejay Graham, who rode Burning Bell, was the rider who came out on the right side of the protest hearing this time after having her own protest dismissed a week earlier after finishing second on Regal Pom.

The winner (who kept the race) on that occasion was Vendidit, trained by ... would you believe ... Glenn Thornton, so this was the second time in successive weeks that Graham and Thornton had faced off in the stewards’ room.

The win on Burning Bell took Graham’s total number of metropolitan winners to forty for the season which sees her currently sit in third place in the Brisbane Jockey’s Premiership.

With the second placed Ben Thompson, who leads Graham by only three winners, departing for Hong Kong this week, Graham is likely to soon move into second place in that Premiership as she continues to rubber-stamp her amazing rise in the jockey ranks.

Graham’s latest win also now places her ten-and-a-half wins ahead of Bailey Wheeler in the Brisbane Apprentice Jockey’s Premiership, with Wheeler, Graham’s only rival for that Premiership honour, still kicking his heels on the sidelines after being stood down, for a second time, from all race riding duties by his boss Annabel Neasham.

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So near and yet so far ... but what a great effort
So near and yet so far ... but what a great effort
Photos: Darren Winningham
Photos: Darren Winningham
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