‘Ultimate warrior’ Yozo Bale finally cracked a Group 2 Geelong Gold Cup (520m) tonight at his third attempt!
One of six ‘local’ finalists in the $50,000 to-the-winner event, Yozo Bale ($5.10) – trained at Anakie by Correy Grenfell – stalked early leader Aston Merit ($5.00) throughout before finishing strongly to score by two and a half lengths in a slick 29.69sec – only three lengths off the track record.
The heavily backed Substantial ($3.50F) was a further three-quarters of a length away third in completing a ‘Geelong region’ trifecta.
Yozo Bale, a four-year-old veteran, finished second last year and eighth in 2020. He was quoted by TAB pre-post as a $16.00 chance to take out this year’s Cup.
$74,800 GEELONG GOLD CUP
🥇 YOZO BALE (Correy Grenfell)
🥈 ASTON MERIT (Jessica Sharp)
🥉 SUBSTANTIAL (Anthony Azzopardi)
The racecaller summed it up perfectly when he said: “It’s a fairytale finish for Yozo Bale… He cracks the Geelong Cup at the third time… What a time… This will be a popular, popular victory.”
Indeed, Yozo Bale was the ‘sentimental favourite’ and Grenfell, 28 – who paid tribute to his wife, Samantha – could hardly contain his excitement.
“He’s a great old dog, he gives everything each start. If not for injuries through his career, he would have doubled his prizemoney. It’s a thrill to have him.”
Yozo Bale (Mar ’18 Fernando Bale x Purcell Bale) notched his 31st win (with 28 seconds and six thirds) from 93 starts. His stakes spiralled to $380,101.
Feature race winners
The ‘country cups king’ has also won the 2020 Bendigo Cup and 2020 Ballarat Cup. He was runner-up in the 2021 Group 1 Temlee, 2022 Ballarat Cup and 2021 Warrnambool Cup.
Grenfell also had Unathi Bale ($19.00), which finished sixth, in the final.
But leading into the final, it was all about Yozo Bale: “He’s going as good as he was 12 months ago,” Grenfell said. “He’s all class and to be where he is at his age is unbelievable.
Grenfell admits the ‘curtain call’ for Yozo Bale is imminent.
“He’s close to retirement, but I’ve nominated him for the Masters Meteor at Wentworth Park in Sydney and I’m also contemplating the Warrnambool Cup.”
“I’d like to get him to 100 starts – that would be a real milestone.”
Pawnote: The G2 Geelong Gold Cup series was the third leg of the ‘Western Festival of Racing’. The fourth and final leg is the Warrnambool Cup (May 4).
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