It was a case of second time lucky in the Group 3 Healesville Cup (350m) on Sunday afternoon for Kouta Mayhem when Jason Sharp’s $20.90 roughie careered away with the straight-track feature and its accompanying $25,000 winner’s purse.
Kouta Mayhem was lining up in the Healesville Cup for the second time, having finished seventh to Zinzan Brooke in 2017, while his three previous victories at the track also included the lucrative Straight Track Championship over the Cup course last August.
A placegetter in last year’s Melbourne Cup and also the Warragul Cup earlier this year, Kouta Mayhem, a son of Fabregas and Belle’s Melody, bred, raced and even whelped by Andrew Lazos and his son Arthur, claimed a deserved Group breakthrough at his eighth attempt.
“He really deserved to win a big race,” Jessica Sharp, wife of trainer Jason, said.
“He ran third in the Melbourne Cup and we thought he perhaps should’ve won the Hobart Thousand. We thought that might have been his last chance to win a Group race, but here we are. We are so proud of him.”
Kouta Mayhem’s 19.24sec heat victory represented a return to form, having been beaten at his ten previous starts, dating back to April.
Drawn in box four, as had been the case in his heat, Kouta Mayhem was the outsider of the Cup field, with Anthony Azzopardi’s dual Group 1 winner Raw Ability the $2.90 favourite, while Brooke Ennis was taking aim at back-to-back Healesville Cup successes with $5 second elect Barooga Brett.
Kouta Mayhem came out running and after getting the better of leader Zoom Out ($9.10) he forged clear to score by 1.84 lengths in a fast 18.90sec, improving his impressive record to 21 from 51.
“It sounds silly but he has changed our lives,” Jason Sharp said.
“He has given us the belief that we can do it…that we can compete in the big races.
“I couldn’t believe his odds. He should’ve been about 8-1.
“Watching the race I saw he was out in front at the half-way mark and I knew they weren’t going to catch him.”
The Sharps Avalon training operation is very much a family affair, with Jason and Jessica’s children Liam, Dylan and Mia all enjoying their involvement, with Jason speaking glowingly of Liam, who handled Kouta Mayhem in the Cup.
“Liam is like the racing manager of our team. He’ll decide where we race him next.”
Liam was in a state of shock immediately after the Cup, holding his hands up and saying “my hands are shaking.”
*This article was compiled by Gerard Guthrie and Andrew Copley. Images by Clint Anderson.