Looker has dream run to Grafton Cup on boyhood playground
GRAFTON CUP: Ben Looker's dream came true at Grafton today.
The 28-year-old jockey partnered Kiwi raider Sacred Day to victory in the $160,000 G McMullan Contracting Grafton Cup (2350m) courtesy of a brilliant ride by the young jockey who moved from Glen Innes as a 12-year-old to work for Grafton trainer John Shelton, who had also moved from Glen innes years before.
He had his first ride at 14 when apprenticed to John.
As he said in Thursday's Daily Examiner he owed it all to John Shelton.
"Can't describe it," he said when interviewed trackside after the Cup win.
He could see Shelton just a few metres away, his mum and dad "over there' and his beautiful wife, Priscilla, waiting to give him a huge hug.
All because he'd lived his dream virtue of a great ride, tracking back to the inside on sacred Day when he spotted an opening.
"I was stuck behind a slow one at the 800m but then I saw Matt (McGillivray) go and I followed him. Then the gap on the inside opened up.
"It's been a boyhood dream, he said of winning the Grafton Cup.
"I hoped Victorem was going to come here as well and win the Ramornie. Would have been great to win both," he joked.
Sacred Day is trained by Tony Pike at Cambridge in NZ and has now won four of his 16 starts after holding on for a half head win from Sopressa with Chris Waller's Vaucluse bay third, edging out race favourite Igraine.
Tony Pike has had a great winter too, bringing a large team over from Cambridge to win a Stradbroke with The Bostonian and now a Grafton Cup.
In the process he became the ninth Kiwi trainer to win the Cup as well.
And he will be back next year.
"I've got to thank Michael Beattie (CRJC chief executive officer)," Tony Pike said.
"He came over in November and asked us if we had any horses for the Grafton Cup.
"He said we needed one going through his grades."
Sacred Bay had won some nice races in NZ too and fitted the exact bill.
He will be back too.
"It's been a super carnival," Tony Pike said.
"We'll go back home now and have a couple of good months off."
Of Ben Looker he was highly complimentary.
"It was a great ride, it was first ever ride for me to."