It’s rare that we see two horses cost each other a race in two different incidents, but we did in the fast class event at Menangle on Saturday nigh,t when the drivers of the joint favourites My Field Marshal and Cruz went tit for tat at opposite ends of the race, and knocked each other right out.
Luke McCarthy on Cruz did to Anthony Butt behind My Field Marshall first.
He scorched out of the gate inside his rival at the start, and – knowing Butt was desperate to lead – he matched him for 400 metres and made him burn before taking hold and popping in on that horse’s back. It was a fine piece of driving, for he had made his most dangerous opponent run a suicidal 25.5 from the death and ,with the soft sit he was about to get until well into the straight, was sitting pretty.
Or at least McCarthy thought he was anyway.
Butt, who was no doubt somewhat annoyed at McCarthy for gassing him, had other plans. Or perhaps My Field Marshall himself did, I’m not sure, but the result was still the same – Cruz got pole-axed.
It happened just as they approached the 200 metre mark in the home straight.
My Field Marshal started to wobble off the fence under pressure, as most horses at Menangle tend to do, and McCarthy spotted it and slipped Cruz up the fence inside him. It was again real smart driving, and if he had been allowed to keep the running to which he had laid claim and was entitled, he was home.
It wasn’t to be.
Just as McCarthy entered the gap and started to roll, My Field Marshal shifted sharply back to the inside and slammed closed the gate. Now whether the vastly experienced horse did it himself, or whether its even more vastly experienced driver Butt told him to do it is a matter of opinion, and I strongly hold mine and I don’t blame the horse.
Either way the end result was the same. Cruz got skittled, galloped and lost all winning chance. That he still somehow managed to finish 4th is a miracle, but an even greater one is that if he had got a clear run even after the gallop, he still would have won. You could hear Jeff Fenech yelling “We Wuz Robbed!” all the way from Menangle to China.
The Stewards report isn’t up yet – they’re bloody slow those New South Welshman, it’s why they don’t win many Origin series – so I am just taking a wild stab in the dark, but I reckon that Anthony Butt might be in a bit of strife.
Four weeks is my prediction.
Let’s wait and see how I go.