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A WINNING WAY TO THE BIG DANCE




KEMBLA Grange trainer Paul Murray wasn’t bothered in the least.

He knew more than most at the 2021 Inglis Hunter Thoroughbred Breeders Association yearling sale when he bid on the progeny of a mare who had managed only one country placing from eight starts.

In spite of her ordinary record on the track, Murray was very aware there was a real South Coast connection to the Teofilo mare Keofilo – the late Berry-based Kevin Robinson, a legendary horseman, trained her dam Kenbelle to win the 1996 Group 1 ATC Australian Oaks at Royal Randwick – and got the Bull Point filly for only $6000.

“That’s why I bought her,” he said today. “And she has already proved such a good buy.”

Racing as Winning Point, she stormed to the post as a $17 chance to land yesterday’s $80,000 Bega Showcase Cup (1600m) at the Sapphire Coast.

It was the now four-year-old mare’s third victory (she has already won up to 2300m, at Newcastle last June), taking her earnings to just over $136,000.

Murray was visibly upset when interviewed on Sky Racing after Jean Van Overmeire had got Winning Point away from the inside rail on straightening en route to leading home an all-Kembla Grange finish, defeating Mitch Beer’s $4.20 favorite Cream Rises and Tyrone Coyle’s gutsy Prince Aurelius ($9), who had made the running.




And it wasn’t only the fact that his legendary late father Bede Murray had won the race on several occasions, including Life Of Reilly (Brenton Avdulla) in 2015, little more than 12 months before he passed away at 80 years of age.

“It’s been a pretty tough time; things just haven’t gone right in a few areas,” Murray explained.

“We’ve had a pretty quiet season so far (Winning Point was his fifth winner since August, and first since Lady Redwood at Gosford on November 2), and I’m getting rid of a few slow ones (horses).

“It was so b……. great to win the Cup with that mare.”

Not only did Winning Point put Murray’s name alongside his father’s as Bega Cup winning trainers, but there was an important extra bonus.

The Bega feature carried eligibility for the $3m The Big Dance (1600m) at Randwick in early November – and, not surprisingly, that’s what is uppermost in Murray’s mind.

“I’m sure Winning Point will be very strong at the end of the Randwick ‘mile’ like she was yesterday,” he said.

“Unfortunately, she suffered cardiac arrythmia at her second run back at home in early December when she ran last of five runners.




“That put an end to our plans to tackle the Belle Of The Turf Stakes (1600m) at Gosford later that month, but I was really happy with her Moruya Cup run (seventh to Zouatica on a heavy track) on January 8, and expected her to go very well yesterday.

“I will probably give her a couple more runs now that she has struck winning form again, and then sit down and map out a program leading up to The Big Dance.”

. HOOFNOTE: Winning Point’s mum Keofilo was the next produce of Kenbelle, now retired from breeding, after she had foaled the brilliant Boban (by Bernardini), who won 11 races (including five Group 1s) and just over $2.8m in prizemoney.

Story John Curtis, February 5, 2024 - Pics Bradley Photos.

 

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