HomeHorse RacingExcelleration pips hometown hero in drama-filled Adelaide Cup

Excelleration pips hometown hero in drama-filled Adelaide Cup

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A fairytale Adelaide Cup victory for hometown heroes Jamie Kah and The Map wasn’t to be as plunge horse Excelleration denied the favourite by the narrowest of margins in a drama-filled edition of the two-mile showpiece on Monday.

The race had all the threads of a thrilling contest, the two favourites going neck-and-neck in the drive to the finish while there was some added theatre as jockey Zac Spain bravely dealt with a snapped iron on Amade, producing an incredible ride in remarkable circumstances.

With the majority of the big Morphettville crowd cheering for the Dan Clarken and Oopy MacGillivray-trained The Map, she loomed as the winner early in the straight before Excelleration rattled home on the inside under the urgings of Harry Coffey to get the nod, delivering Ballarat trainer Richard Cully the biggest victory of his career.

It was an outrageously good steer from Coffey, who saved a mountain of ground along the rail and he needed every inch of it to claim the prize.

Punters certainly locked in on Excelleration late in betting, crunched in from $8 overnight to jump at $4.40, and the result continues an amazing start to the year for the seven-year-old which won the Great Western Cup in January, the Group 3 Launceston Cup last month and now the Adelaide Cup.

“He’s a classy horse and Richie is a brilliant trainer, he knows what he’s doing,” Coffey said.

“I just had to cop my medicine (from the awkward draw) and I actually had him really well relaxed for the type of horse he is.

“And then Zac’s iron broke and I was like ‘wowee, what am I going to do now’. To Zac’s credit, he tried to ride a race without any irons and he gave it a good steer because I was following him.

“Richie was really keen for me to cut the corner and it worked. We cut the corner all right and shot straight up the inside.”

Excelleration (inside) and The Map drive to the line in the Adelaide Cup. Picture: Makoto Kaneko

Clarken was full of praise for The Map ($3.80) which finished two and three-quarter lengths ahead of the third-placed Skelm ($31), just left to rue the fact that no horse was able to take her into the race and she was left a sitting shot.

“She’s gone absolutely enormous, it was just unfortunate the way it unfolded she was just left in front too early,” Clarken said.

“To the horse’s credit, the winner has gone past her and she’s fought back. In one more stride she wins. She’s run out of her skin.

“She got a gun ride … she’s done us proud.”

The hard luck story of the race was undoubtedly the Phillip Stokes-trained Amade ($8) which finished third last year and somehow came fourth this time around, beaten just over three lengths.

The drama started on the way to the gates when one of the irons snapped and Spain was dislodged, but that issue was fixed, only for the opposite iron to snap approaching the winning post the first time.

It meant Spain was stuck bobbing up and down with little control for most of the race and even then he still pulled out wide at the top of the straight and let down to collect a cheque for connections.

“I think, with all things being equal, he probably wins by five,” Stokes said.

“I’ve never seen that happen.”

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