HOPE Diamond has a bright future, her Muswellbrook trainer reckons after she burst through the middle of the field to win a blanket finish in Friday’s Community Mutual Group Benchmark 55 Handicap (1450m) at Quirindi.
The Mack Griffith-trained three-year-old gelding came from a seemingly hopeless position 200m out to dive through the middle and snare a nose win from Jeremy Sylvester’s Supercheap with Kris Lees’s Wheeo another nose away third.
Griffith and owner Paul “Rocky” Waters thought they were “no chance” half way down the Quirindi hill and were still wondering how they’d managed the win after watching half a dozen replays in the Quirindi committee room.
Only a colour print of the photo finish obtained by secretary Ted Wilkinson for them finally convinced, and showed, them they had won.
Leanne Henry rode Hope Diamond and always thought she was a chance when she gained a run.
“He just had to win once he got the split,” Henry said.
“He relaxed pretty good in the run today too and then hit the line real good.”
Griffith said the son of Youthful Legs “should have won won four races by now”.
“He’s had no luck with barriers,”Griffith said.
“At Scone he drew 13 and was 10 deep then he was five wide at Tamworth and four wide at his last start.
“He had a lot better run today and was back a bit further than I thought.
“He’s a full brother to Pesci but, while Pesci was a mad leader, this bloke has a different toughness.”
Hope Diamond’s success was the gelding’s second from 14 starts and continues a successful partnership between Griffith and Waters over more than 20 years.
“We used to live together in a few houses when we were young blokes,”Griffith said.
“We’ve been good mates for a long while and had a fair few horses together when we were younger.
“He was in Sir Redford (winner of two Muswellbrook Cups) and a few others too.
These days he works on an oil rig in Nicaragua I think and lives in Newcastle.”
They were still examining the colour print of their win long after the race finish.