Sport

Kung Fu kicks in

By Fraser Walker-Pearce

KUNG Fu Fighter kicked his way into the clear to literally knock out the rest of the field in the $35,000 Two Tarts Maiden Plate over 1200m at Echuca racecourse yesterday.

It was Echuca Racing Club’s second meeting in two days after the embattled Seymour racetrack was again ruled unfit for racing, forcing the meeting to be transferred.

Kung Fu Fighter was never in the call, sitting at the back of the 13-horse field and seemingly trapped behind a wall of horses as the field swung into the straight and Red Octane burst clear to take what looked a winning break.

It wasn’t until there was just 200m to go that rider Billy Egan managed to bullock his way through the field and seize an opening, by which time most people had put down their glasses.

Having drifted in the betting the three-year-old gelding was sent out at 7/1.

Egan got the Patrick Payne trained horse to lengthen its stride it mowed the leader down and was pulling away for the win as they hit the line.

Red Octane suddenly hit a wall and finished third as Gottaluvtrucks also made up good ground to finish second.

It was only the second start for the winner and his time of 1min, 11secs to pocket his first pay cheque of $19,250 would have been welcomed by his owners.

Speaking straight after the race, Egan said although the gap was a long time coming he felt Kung Fu Fighter had raced well from start to finish.

“He has made significant improvements of late and you can see that since I last rode him,” he said.

After a first up fifth at Swan Hill last year, Kung Fu Fighter was sent to the paddock for 28 weeks and had competed in three trials this year before yesterday’s maiden win.

“I think he’s done well and his new style will benefit him,” Egan added.

“He sat on speed well for that first period of the race before it opened up, and we’ve been able to get him resting a bit ahead of the finish so he finishes strongly,” he said.

“He spring-boarded well, certainly.”

Gwenda Johnstone’s April Sun in Cuba was making its racing debut and hit the front in the back straight but could not go with the pace when things heated up and hung on to finish fourth.

The bonus home meeting for local trainers did not prove very lucrative even though several of them had multiple starters on the day but it was a different story for Cranbourne trainer Robbie Griffiths.

In the third of the day he combined with Andrew Mallyon to win the $35,000 Darebin RSL Over 50s over 2100m with So Schmick and then put Ethan Brown on Cash Affair to take out the $35,000 bet365 Handicap over 1400m.