Rick Hore-Lacy celebrated one of his biggest thrills in racing when he prepared the quinella in Saturday’s $350,000 Sir Rupert Clarke Stakes at Caulfield.
Toorak Toff attained dual Group 1-winner status when he benefitted from a stellar Craig Williams ride to hold off stablemate Pinnacles in the 1400m Group 1.
Hore-Lacy was ecstatic to see the entire, who has had a throat operation since winning last year’s $1 million Golden Rose, rediscover his best form on the biggest stage.
“He’s always been a good horse and with all the problems that he’s had it’s just wonderful to see him come back and beat a good field like the way he did,” the Caulfield horseman said.
“He had the throat operation and I’ve just had a lot of problems with him, but this time everything’s gone smoothly.”
Toorak Toff (56.5kg) took full advantage of being given the run of the race by Williams to become the first horse since Testa Rossa (58.5kg) in 2000 to carry more than 55.5kg to victory in the Sir Rupert Clarke Stakes.
The four-year-old lobbed in the box seat after jumping well from barrier five and Williams was able to peel off the heels of leader Master Of Design rounding the home turn and put his stamp on the race.
The son of Show A Heart, who started at $12, claimed the lead 150m from home and was ridden out by Williams to score by 1-1/2 lengths from former Doncaster Handicap placegetter Pinnacles ($26) with Master Of Design ($21) boxing on for third, a further head back.
Majestic Music ($61) did her best work in the final 100m to flash into fourth place, while boom three-year-old Smart Missile had to settle for 10th but lost few admirers with his run.
The heavily-backed $2.90 favourite faced a near-impossible task after dawdling out of the barriers and settling last, but he was doing his best work late along the fence and powered into 10th placing despite not getting into the clear until around 200m from home.
Toorak Toff’s win continued Williams’s affinity with the race, which he has now won back-to-back twice. He scored aboard Barely A Moment and Rewaaya in 2005 and 2006, before teaming with Response to win last year.
Williams’s father Alan also has fond memories of the race, riding Private Talk to victory in 1976 and training Black Rouge to score in 1993.
“It’s a great thrill for me with the history of the race,” Williams said. “My father won it as a trainer and a jockey and when I first come back from Hong Kong it was my first really big thrill to win on Barely A Moment.”