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By Graham Potter | Saturday, May 25, 2024

The Annabel Neasham trained Bois D’Argent scored a compelling victory in the $1 million, Group 1 Doomben Cup when he powered through the 2000m trip, leading from start to finish and still finding enough to ward off some serious late challenges to salute by a diminishing, oh so narrow margin.

The seven-year-old grey, who finished fourth in the Caulfield Cup in October, had been building nicely enough leading into the race posting a Group 3 fourth place in the JRA Plate at Randwick two runs back, a result which was followed by third place finish in the Gold Coast Cup in his final run before the Doomben Cup.

Both of those runs were on heavy going and Bois D’Argent was back on soft going for the Doomben Cup, a subtle but important change in the racing surface conditions for the grey.

He still has not won on heavy going but has now won five out of nine starts on soft going ... and has been placed on the other four occasions.

For all of that though, Bois D’Argent was generally rated as an unlikely winner at $26 ... and he was, in fact, only the third fancy on the betting boards of the four Neasham trained runners in the race ... but the day would be his, courtesy of a composed and committed performance under a masterful ride by Blake Shinn.

“He was way above the odds,” suggested Neasham. “You just have to pick back through his form to see he was no worse than the better horses in this field.

“He ran fourth in a Caulfield Cup. He was a bit unlucky in the Tancred where things just didn’t work out for him that day, but he ran really well.

“New Endeavour was starting to catch us on the line ... it was a flashback to last week (when New Endeavour just failed to catch the Neasham trained Spirit Ridge in the Chairman’s handicap). It was a small margin at the line, but it was a margin, nevertheless.

“Blake just rode him beautifully.”

And, in many ways, the moment belonged to Blake Shinn.

The tear in his eye when being interviewed post-race had as much to do with a treasured memory of the past than it had to do with the pleasure of this, his third Doomben Cup success, with the late Guy Walter, for whom Shinn won his first Doomben Cup aboard Streama ten years ago, very much in Shinn’s thoughts as brought Bois D’Argent back to scale.

“I’m a bit emotional with this one,” said Shinn. “After I realized ... winning it ... Guy came straight into my mind. It was a pretty touching moment for me.

“It was also pretty special to win a race of this magnitude for Annabel.

“The horse was amazing. I didn’t expect to lead. I thought Serpentine would be more urgent from out wide, but he jumped so well and when I was able to get control, I just thought ... we’re here, let’s rate him.

“Down the back I was able to just come back enough so that I could pick it up around about the 700m and try and make his last part the strongest.

“When I was able to get to work on him just prior to the turn, I knew he would be strong.

“Like I said, the horse was amazing. Greys on a wet track. They are hard to beat, aren’t they?”

For the second week in a row, the Gai Waterhouse and Adrian Bott trained New Endeavour had to settle for second place while another Neasham trained runner Fawkner Park, finished strongly late to claim an eye-catching third place.

It was a very noteworthy performance from Fawkner Park who was stepping up to Group 1 company after winning the two Listed races ... the Albury Cup and the Wagga Cup ... in the lead-up to this race. Clearly one for the notebook!

The Peter and Paul Snowden trained Huetor was brave in his bid to land three Doomben Cup’s in a row finishing in fourth place a little over a length behind Bois D’Argent after looking a threat inside the last 200m.

The race favourite Kovalica ($3.50) was never in the hunt when coming home in sixth place.

This was Annabel Neasham’s second Doomben Cup triumph having previously won the race with Zaaki in 2021.

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Photos: Graham Potter
Photos: Graham Potter
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