The residents of small rural township Waverley look set to rock and roll for the next few days as resident trainer Bill Thurlow and his gallant mare Glory Days did them proud when bolting home in the Gr.1 Barfoot & Thompson Auckland Cup (3200m) at Ellerslie on Saturday.
The Red Giant six-year-old had provided Thurlow and her owners with their biggest win when successful in the Gr.2 Avondale Cup (2400m) at her last start but surpassed that thrill with another commanding performance in the iconic Ellerslie two-miler.
Expertly handled by last season’s leading jockey Sam Collett, Glory Days was true to her normal racing pattern as she settled last in the early stages before looping the field at the 600m mark.
Glory Days quickly bolted clear and never looked like being caught as she relished the heavy underfoot conditions to win by two lengths from last year’s runner-up, Five To Midnight with Blue Breeze just a nose back in third.
Collett was trying hard to hold back the tears as she celebrated the first Group One victory of her career.
“I’ve been trying to keep up with mum and dad so to get this is great as I know they quinellaed the race in 1991,” she said.
“I was here as a kid then so that was pretty cool, not that I remember much.
“I’m just so rapt and especially for Bill as he deserved this. I’m rapt that he entrusted me with the ride as she is as tough as they come.
“Full credit to her (Glory Days) as the whole race I was back, and I was mindful of putting myself there on the corner and she just put me there.”
Collet is the daughter of Jim Collett and Trudy Thornton who fought out the 1991 Cup on Star Harvest and Shugar respectively.
Thurlow was struggling to come to terms with the win as he tried to explain what it meant to him to win the race.
“It’s just unbelievable as I don’t know what to say, but I think the horse has said it all really,” he said.
“I was so confident, even going down the back, as I could see she was travelling sweet.
“Everything went to plan as we’d planned to get her back and let her relax. When she circled them and got there, I knew it was going to take a very good horse to beat her as she doesn’t know when to stop.
“We nursed her along and planned to get here and we’ve done it.”
Thurlow will now give Glory Days a few days in the paddock before deciding on where to next with a lightning trip to Australia to contest the Gr.1 Sydney Cup (3200m) a distinct possibility.
“We’ll just take her home and see but there’s a good chance (of a trip to Sydney),” he said.
Third-placed runner Blue Breeze could also be a surprise Sydney Cup candidate with co-owner Tony Gavigan indicating they were also considering the trans-Tasman trip with their charge.
With the victory Glory Days took her career record to ten wins from 24 starts and over $635,000 in stakes-earnings. – NZ Racing Desk
Race Replay: Glory Days wins the Gr.1 Barfoot & Thompson Auckland Cup