Disappointment in the Melbourne Cup and The Phoenix turned into a Group 1 celebration for veteran Victorian star Fernando Mick in the time-honoured Hobart Thousand (461m) last Thursday night.
After coming agonisingly close to Melbourne Cup glory, when runner-up, and then being overlooked for The Phoenix, Fernando Mick claimed a thoroughly deserved Group breakthrough when winning the Hobart Thousand at his 92nd start.
Claiming a first G1 victory after 90-plus starts would be a rarity in any racing code and is another wonderful achievement for reigning Australian Trainer of the Year David Geall.
Fernando Mick, a son of Fernando Bale and Noaki Moth, raced by breeder Paul Connell, was making his ninth Group appearance, having also finished a close second in last year’s G1 Maturity Classic.
“He’d been in quite a number of G1s and G2s and we felt he deserved it,” said Geall, who bookended 2022 with feature victories in Tasmania, having won the G2 Launceston Cup in January with Hill Top Jack.
“His owner, Paul Connell, and his family were over the moon. Apparently, they nearly hit the roof watching at home!
“They were still recovering from just getting pipped in the Melbourne Cup. But Paul was glass half-full after the Melbourne Cup. He was just so happy to make it.”
It was Fernando Mick’s second tilt at the Hobart Thousand, after running third in last year’s heats, and he was the fastest qualifier this time around, clocking a scorching 25.63sec.
Drawn in box 2 for the $100,000 to-the-winner final, Fernando Mick started $2.60 favourite, shading fellow Victorian Paua Of Buddy (box 8) at $2.70.
Fernando Mick again showed what has become his customary early speed to quickly find the front and never looked like surrendering the ascendancy, defeating Paua Of Buddy by 1.5 lengths in a Best Of Night 25.71sec.
WATCH: FERNANDO MICK (B2) claimed his first feature victory at his 92nd start when defeating fellow Victorian PAUA OF BUDDY (B8) in the Group 1 Hobart Thousand Final last Thursday night.
It was his 32nd win, taking his earnings past the half-million mark, and ninth from his last 13 appearances, as the evergreen speedster incredibly enjoys a career best run of form as he approaches a century milestone.
“It’s unbelievable,” said Geall.
“He was nudged out in 29.21sec in a Melbourne Cup. He couldn’t run that when he was two years old!
“As he’s got older, he’s just got faster and faster and more competitive.
“Over the last six months he’s stepped up his times and he’s become a very reliable beginner, which let him down earlier in his career.
“Winning the Hobart Thousand makes me more content as a trainer. It’s such a prestigious race, first run in the 1930s, and you look at the honour roll and the champions that have won it.”
It proved to be second time lucky for Geall in the Hobart Thousand, Australia’s oldest G1 event, having run third last year with his first finalist, superstar Ferdinand Boy.
However, Geall admitted he was left pondering what might have been in The Phoenix, having run third in last year’s inaugural running with Melbourne Cup winner Koblenz.
“It was disappointing to miss out, because I thought he ticked all the boxes,” he said.
“He can handle outside draws, which a lot of dogs can’t, and runs those quick splits that I would’ve thought would be a prerequisite for slot holders.
“We were asked about going into the pool of dogs that were reserves, but I’m glad we made the right decision to go down to Hobart.
“Fernando Mick will probably go to the (G2) Warragul Cup next (heats January 6) and then possibly the Launceston Cup (heats January 30). He’s eligible for a $25,000 bonus now if he can win the Launceston Cup.
“That would lead up to the (G1) Temlee, if they pick him!”
Vics featured prominently on Hobart Thousand night, with 2021 Thousand runner-up Do It, currently with local trainer Mick Stringer, edging out Paul Abela’s Panadero Warrior in the Consolation, clocking 25.76sec.
Jason Thompson’s country cups star Typhoon Sammy took out the Billy Grice Memorial in 25.80sec, while former Victorian Big Opal Rocks, also now with Stringer, romped home by 11.25 lengths over 599m.