Furs­dons cel­e­brate Mel­bourne win

Matamata Chronicle - - Your Paper, Your Place - DEN­NIS RYAN

Mata­mata cou­ple Karen and Kevin Furs­don had an un­ex­pected wind­fall last week­end when their for­mer sta­ble mem­ber I’ll’ava’alf won the Crisp Steeple­chase in Mel­bourne.

I’ll’ava’alf won six of his 38 flat starts from Wil­low Sta­bles as well as be­ing placed in each of his four starts over hur­dles, but the de­ci­sion was made last year to sell him to a Vic­to­rian syn­di­cate on the look­out for likely jumpers.

The syn­di­cate man­ager is Vic­to­rian Jumps As­so­ci­a­tion chair­man Sandy Mc­Gre­gor, best known for last year’s Mel­bourne Cup win­ner Prince of Pen­zance but also in­volved with an ear­lier re­cruit from the Furs­don sta­ble, Tequila At Mid­nite.

Kevin Furs­don and fel­low owner Peter Stan­away kept a 10 per cent share in I’ll’ava’alf, who had his first win un­der the new ar­range­ment when suc­cess­ful last month in a maiden hur­dle at War­rnam­bool, where he is trained by Pa­trick Ryan.

He lost his rider when step­ping up to steeple­chase fences at his next start and fol­lowed that with a fourth plac­ing on the flat. That was just last Thurs­day and it came as a sur­prise to his for­mer trainer when he fronted up in Sun­day’s A$125,000 Crisp Steeple­chase.

The up­shot was that I’ll’ava’alf scored an un­likely win in the big event, head­ing a tri­fecta com­pleted by fel­low Kiwi gal­lop­ers Lucky Tonight and Zed Em. The other sur­prise about the re­sult was that the hot favourite, star New Zealand jumper Sea King, failed to com­plete the course.

In a freak ac­ci­dent, a sec­tion of run­ning rail that had been dis­lodged by the horse ahead of him speared Sea King in the chest and in the melee he lost his rider Steven Pate­man.

The events around that catas­tro­phe, which left Sea King with a nasty wound that needed stitch­ing, only be­came known later, while back in Mata­mata the Furs­dons were cel­e­brat­ing their un­likely win.

‘‘It sur­prised us even to see him in the race let alone come out and win it,’’ said Karen. whose own sea­son on the home front has kicked off in per­fect style.

‘‘It’s great that Kevin and Peter de­cided to keep a share and now we’re go­ing over for his next start in the Grand Na­tional Steeples at Bal­larat.’’

That race on Au­gust 21 car­ries a stake of A$350,000 and even a plac­ing should guar­an­tee that the bloke who named I’ll’ava’alf will al­low him­self the lux­ury of more than one full pint.

Mata­mata trainer Karen Furs­don leads Our Zara away after the horse’s win in the Stella Ar­tois 2000 at New Ply­mouth in 2012.

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