Brave Ali wins Quirindi Cup in fighting finish

CRAIG Martin won his second major cup in two weeks while winning jockey Kody Nestor gave punters the biggest Cup tip when he jumped off last-start winner and Cup favourite Lancelot to ride Brave Ali into Akubra Quirindi Cup history yesterday.

Nestor secured “a dream run” to win yesterday’s $35,000 Akubra Quirindi Cup by a half length from Al’s Gold with gallant Lancelot a long neck away third.

Lancelot, a 4-1 race favourite, had led most of the way but was swamped in the straight by a horde of horses finishing out wide.

He kicked back solidly though, only failing to hold off Cup winner Brave Ali and runner-up Al’s Gold in a feature race where the winner clocked 1min 38.46secs.

Brave Ali also survived a protest from the second horse.

“There was nothing in it,” Martin said after his first Quirindi Cup win.

“But I thought Kody gave everybody the biggest tip possible. 

“He jumped off the favourite to ride our horse.

“You can’t get any bigger tip than that.”

Nestor, 23, also won his first Quirindi Cup yesterday.

“He’d be in Sydney if he could ride at 53 or 54kg,” Martin said of the Dubbo-based jockey who rides at 56kg.

Nestor celebrated his first Quirindi Cup with plenty of praise for seven-year-old Brave Ali, who is raced by a large syndicate of Armidale owners.

“He’s a real grinder – ground it right out today,” he told Martin on unsaddling.

“You wouldn’t believe the run we had – he  got the best run in the race.”

Nestor has been riding for eight years and has ridden more than 400 winners despite his heavy weight.

“It’s a great thrill to win this,” he said.

“He’d run a bottler at Walcha (in the Walcha Cup). 

“He was never on the track there – it was lot different today.”

Brave Ali’s stablemate, Jefferson Park, won the Walcha Cup for Martin on February 7.

That was a great delight for the Walcha-born Martin while he celebrated his first Quirindi Cup in a similar low- key fashion.

“It was an enormous run at Walcha,”  Martin said of Brave Ali.

“He got shuffled to the outside when they fanned for home. 

“He was the widest runner.

“It’s great to win this race for the boys (Armidale syndicate). 

“He’s been a good horse for us. He’s won four races for me now since I’ve had him.

“Three of them have been cups – the Guyra Cup, Black Nugget (at Mudgee) and now the Quirindi Cup. 

“He also finished second in the Mudgee Cup.”

He said it’s taken a little time to work him out.

He also said Brave Ali can be a bad traveller too, bad trips to Port Macquarie and Brisbane his undoing away from home.

“He’s travelling better now,” Martin said.

“But really, he’s never run a bad race for me.”

The Monday, March 17 $35,000 Armidale Cup (1900m) is now his next aim.

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