Champion stayer Fanta Bale continued her love affair with The Meadows when defeating boom kennelmate Rippin’ Sam to win the Group 1 Zoom Top (725m) in a hugely-anticipated clash that headlined the opening night of the Australian Cup Carnival.
Millionaire Fanta Bale gave Robert Britton his third victory in the invitation-only Zoom Top in the last five years, with the master distance conditioner having gone back-to-back in 2014/15 with Cheetah Zorro and Space Star.
And there’s every chance Britton will be back again next year with heir apparent Rippin’ Sam, which charged home to finish second in his first test at Group level, however Fanta Bale demonstrated she is in absolutely no hurry to relinquish her crown.
The Zoom Top victory completed a remarkable all-distance Australian Cup Carnival treble for Fanta Bale after she won the Rookie Rebel over 600m at the corresponding meeting last year before dropping back to 525m to take out the Australian Cup a fortnight later.
It was Fanta Bale’s eighth success at Group 1 level and four have come at The Meadows, with the daughter of 2013 Topgun hero David Bale having announced her arrival in elite company when winning the middle distance Hume Cup in October 2016.
“She’s just a machine. Whether she leads or comes from behind she finds a way,” Robert Britton said.
“We’ve never had a dog like her and I just hope it continues.
“She just keeps doing the right thing in her races every time.
“I should also recognise the young dog who ran second for us tonight (Rippin’ Sam). We’re really proud of him too.”
Fanta Bale started $2.20 favourite from box four in the Zoom Top, with Rippin’ Sam the $4.20 second elect.
Fanta Bale came out running and settled in second place behind Queenslander Champagne Sally ($33.80) and after hitting the front in the home straight she forged clear to defeat the late-closing Rippin’ Sam by 2.14 lengths in 42.35sec.
It was Fanta Bale’s 40th win from 60 starts with the $75,000 winner’s purse taking her career earnings past $1,257,000, second only to superstar sprinter Fernando Bale with $1,299,370.
And with Britton plotting a path towards back-to-back Sandown Cups, who knows how much prizemoney Fanta Bale will have banked when breeder Paul Wheeler decides it’s time for the breeding barn.
*This article was compiled by Gerard Guthrie and Andrew Copley. Images by Clint Anderson.