The versatile Out Of Range claimed the group 2 McKenna Memorial final last night at Sandown Park.
Headline act and race favourite Tornado Tears missed the start while Out Of Range began faultlessly to be the clear leader. He built a three length break turning to the back straight before challenged by Neo Cleo. It was race on with the pair dueling side-by-side turning for home. Out Of Range’s strength could not be matched as he held on to win by a length from Neo Cleo and the fast finishing Rockstar Patriot in 34.23.
Handler and co-trainer Jason Thompson (pictured centre with Michael Puleio and Sophie Thompson) was delighted post-race and pleased to see Out Of Range begin so well.
“When he gets the start right he can show a lot of speed,” said Thompson.
“If you told me before the race that he’d lead like that, I would’ve said you’re dreaming. He’s got a flat spot mid-race and down the back they can really make ground on him, but if they don’t get past him he kicks away. I knew his last 100m was going to be strong.”
The win was Out Of Range’s third at group level after he took out the group 1 Silver Chief and group 1 National Derby earlier this year. Last night’s $40,000 first prize took his prize money tally to $292,575.
The Jason and Seona Thompson team tested him over the staying trip before dropping him back to the middle distance for the McKenna Memorial series.
“This race came at the perfect time for him as he was coming in with good form over ‘700’. He had a good win last week in his heat and came in to the final full of confidence.”
Part-owner Michael Puleio was also on-track to celebrate and was beyond proud of his boy.
“It’s unbelievable, it really is. I didn’t think he’d go straight to the front, but when he did I thought they won’t catch him now,” said Puleio.
He and son Darren bred the highly successful litter produced by their own Nicki Fields and sired by the great Fernando Bale.
“To have the success we’ve had so far, it’s a dream come true.”
Unfortunately his son Darren wasn’t on-track to enjoy the win but was watching on from the US and was “tickled pink” after watching the replay.
Click here for all of last night’s results
It was the 48th running of the McKenna Memorial. It was first run in 1971 making this one of our longest running features. It was run over the staying trip until 2010 and has been over 595m since. It’s named after the club’s first secretary, Jack McKenna.