By LIAM DURKIN
MOE Cup Day was highlighted by local trainer Darryl Blackshaw winning the Race 4 TM&H Mitre 10 Maiden Plate (1600m) with four-year-old mare Vibrant Angel.
A starting price of $26.00 didn’t attract much expectation, but with jockey Beau Mertens on board, Vibrant Angel displayed trademark Gippsland tenacity to land the first win of its career from four starts.
The win completed a whirlwind for Blackshaw, as Vibrant Angel underwent a veterinary examination pre-race behind the barriers before being passed suitable to race.
Capping off the win was the fact Blackshaw got to share the victory alongside son and owner Brendan, who was at Moe Racing Club as an essential worker through his role running labour hire company Team Staffing Solutions.
The Moe Cup has offered a good omen for the Blackshaw’s ever since Darryl landed his very first winner as a trainer way back in 1978.
In other races, a number of close finishes were seen throughout the meeting.
The Race 1 Triple M Maiden Plate (1100m) saw six horses make up the field.
Making Contact finished well to win for Mick Price and Michael Kent Jr.
It was a sign of things to come for jockey Patrick Moloney, who steered Making Contact home before riding the winner of the Moe Cup.
The Race 2 3GG FYO+ Maiden Plate (1100m) returned an incredibly tight finish, with less than two lengths making up the difference between the top six runners. Major Impact however stretched at the line to win for Enver Jusufovic, justifying its $1.90 favouritism.
It was an even tighter finish in the Race 3 Hydro Australia BM64 Handicap (1000m).
Yulong Defence arrived at the last stride to win by a short-head from Arroance. The four-year-old gelding did not let a restrained start deter him, as it came from 10th with 400m to go to give Pakenham trainer Phillip Stokes the win.
With three wins from six starts, Yulong Defence looks to be a horse to put in your blackbook.
The closest finish of the day came in the Race 5 Ian Grant’s Caravans BM64 Handicap (1600m).
Virtually nothing separated a quartet of runners as they passed the post, but in the end it was Our Little Ripper who saluted.
The five-year-old mare gave punters who backed it plenty to smile about thanks to a $21 starting price.
Part of the blanket finish was fourth-placed Kamien for the Moe stable of Peter Gelagotis Racing, which was leading with 400m to go before being swamped right at the death.
The Race 6 Bottlemart Moe Mile BM78 Handicap (1600m) returned an international winner, with New Zealand gelding Rock In The Park touching in ahead of French counterpart Global Gift.
A familiar name in racing was featured in the Race 7 Moe Optical BM70 Handicap (2050m), as the Gai Waterhouse and Adrian Bott-trained Zoumon did it relatively easy from Florida Dream, ridden by Trafalgar jockey Jason Maskiell.
Following the Race 8 Moe Cup, the meeting ended with New Zealand gelding The General winning by 1.5 lengths from Mariamia.