Underrated but ultra-consistent Fanta Bale claimed her third Group 1 trophy at The Meadows – and her first as a sprinter – with a surprise victory in the Sky Racing Australian Cup Final on Saturday night.
Trained by Robert Britton for Australia’s most successful breeder Paul Wheeler, Fanta Bale had won two 600m features at The Meadows, the Hume Cup last October and Rookie Rebel invitational on the opening night of the Australian Cup Carnival.
After winning the Rookie Rebel Britton opted to revert to sprinting for the Australian Cup rather than testing the daughter of 2012 Topgun hero David Bale and US-bred dam Ucme Typhoon as a stayer and his decision proved to be a $250,000 masterstroke.
“It’s fate that she won tonight. I actually had her entered for a 700 metre race a little while back, but I had to scratch her because she was a little bit sore,” Britton said.
“She ended up missing five weeks of racing, but had she raced that day I probably would have kept her over the longer distances and never even contemplated putting her in the Australian Cup.”
Fanta Bale won her Australian Cup heat in 29.98sec from box one and she started at $8.30 from box eight in the decider, with the move to the outside alley a concern for Britton.
Silver Chief and Temlee hero Lightning Frank was the $2.40 favourite from box three but he missed the start as Fanta Bale showed great speed to lead Aston Bolero on the first turn.
Aston Bolero gained the ascendancy shortly after but Fanta Bale railed to the lead turning for home and dashed clear, defeating the strong-finishing youngster Eminent Reality by 2 ¾ lengths in 30.01sec, with Aeroplane Bob running third.
“This is an absolute thrill. Thinking about the race all week I couldn’t see how she could get across to the rail from box eight,” Britton said.
“But she has proved me wrong several times in her career and she has done so again tonight.
“I was watching the race from just in front of the boxes and she began brilliantly. I was actually shocked that she beat Aston Bolero out.
“Then he (Aston Bolero) pushed under her but somehow they both managed to stay in front.”
It was Britton’s third Australian Cup, with the master Lara mentor having won the race with Isa Brown in 2002 and Tasman Queen in 2008.
Fanta Bale doubled her earnings, passing the $500,000 mark, and she’s now won 20 of her 29 starts, her consistency underlined by the fact she hasn’t missed a place in her last 18 outings, winning 13 times, since finishing sixth in the Group 3 SA Oaks last September.
“She reminds me a lot of Isa Brown in that she’s a one pacer but a good box dog who was dropping back in distance for this race,” Britton said.
“I’m still keen to try her as a stayer, and I’ll have a good think over the next few days about what I’ll do with her next.”
*This article was compiled by Gerard Guthrie and Andrew Copley.