Luckygray was confirmed as one of the country’s rising stars when he was awarded Saturday’s $1 million Group One Railway Stakes (1600m) at Ascot in Perth.
Originally second past the post, a long neck behind kiwi raider He’s Remarkable, Luckygray was elevated to the winning place after a sensational protest hearing that stretched to over 30 minutes past the conclusion of the race.
Stewards ruled that Kerrin McEvoy, who rode He’s Remarkable, allowed his mount to shift out when not clear of Waratah’s Secret, causing that runner to clip heels and fall back onto Ranger who in turn interfered with Luckygray.
In the space of about 100 metres McEvoy was able to get his mount off the fence and out three to four horses from the fence ready to pounce on the leaders – but it was his path to that point that upset stewards and led to him losing the race.
He’s Remarkable bolted clear of his rivals into the straight and Luckygray, with a desperate Shaun O’Donnell in the saddle, knuckled down late to drop the margin back to a long neck when the line was reached.
Two protests were lodged against the winner – the successful objection from O’Donnell aboard Luckygray, while another came from Paul Harvey, rider of fourth placegetter, Waratah’s Secret.
Stewards ruled that the distance lost by Luckygray in the incident near the 600 metre mark was greater than the final margin of 0.45 of a length.
Luckygray’s rider Shaun O’Donnell and trainer Gino Poletti, originally left wondering what might have been, were suddenly set to celebrate as their charge was declared the winner meaning his prizemoney woud leap from $200,000 to $612,500.
“Unfortunately that incident had to happen and it had to get decided in the stewards room,” O’Donnell told Sky Racing World.
“I felt that we deserved the win and everyone could see how he got home and it was great.”
“I didnt at all (see that is was McEvoy who caused the interference). A few of the boys out there said that there was a bit of interference from the winner and it’s caused you to be interfered – so I said to trainer Gino Poletti, we better go and have a look mate.”
“Obviously Waratah’s Secret protested as well as there was movement from the inside, out,” he added.
“Coming back I was a shattered man. You just want a fair and square race. He was the form horse going into the race and he deserves this accolade.”
O’Donnell was confident that Luckygray could measure up to the better horses in the eastern states.
“I don’t know how good he is,” he noted. “But I’d love to own him.”
The win was the biggest in prizemoney terms for O’Donnell, who’s previous biggest win came in the 1993 Kingston Town Stakes.
Trainer Gino Poletti took a shine to Luckygray at the 2009 Magic Millions Perth Yearling Sale and he went to $46,000 to secure him from the Riverslea Farm draft.
A winner of seven of his nine starts, Luckygray has already earned over $876,000 and the sky looks the limit for this rising star of Perth racing.
Luckygray is the first Group One winner for the impeccably bred Redoute’s Choice sire Bradbury’s Luck.
A winner of the Magic Millions 2YO Classic and Canonbury Stakes as a juvenile, Bradbury’s Luck has quickly established himself one of the smartest young sires based in Queensland.
He is a resident of Glenlogan Park and stables alongside the likes of Jet Spur, Real Saga and Show a Heart.
His dam Damah Lady, a daughter of Mukaddamah, won fours races including two and two at distances to 1400 metres.
She in turn is a half sister to the Todman Slipper Trial Stakes winner Diego Garcia, a Magic Millions graduate who’s now in Singapore under the name of Express Win and has earned the equivalent of $1.4 million.