Young Victorian training star and former pro wrestler Daniel Gibbons celebrated a Group 1 breakthrough when Ariarne Bale blitzed her rivals in the $160,500 Sportsbet Fanta Bale Super Stayers Final (730m) at The Meadows on Saturday night.
After switching their sporting allegiances from wrestling to the racetrack, Gibbons, 34, and wife Rebecca endured a frustrating wait to claim their first Group trophy.
The Avalon duo broke a well-documented hoodoo when Yahiro Bale, a Feral Franky x Dyna Zesty litter sister to Ariarne Bale, won the G3 SA Oaks last September.
Ariarne Bale was the fastest qualifier for the Super Stayers after a 42.54sec heat victory, where she led all-the-way.
Drawn in box two for the $100,000 to-the-winner final, Ariarne Bale was the $3.90 second elect, with NSW star Cawbourne Magic the $3.60 favourite from box eight.
2022 Super Stayers winner Mepunga Ruby was $5.30, while another NSW visitor in Stagger Out Lee, already a two-time G1 winner in Melbourne, was $7.80.
Ariarne Bale was slow to begin, but used her inside alley to push ominously into a close third behind Golden Quest ($8.10) and Korda ($9.90), before storming to the lead turning for home and romping clear by an ever-widening 7 lengths in a fast 42.31sec.
WATCH: “That was a belting!” ARIARNE BALE (B2) careered away with the Fanta Bale Super Stayers (730m), scoring by seven lengths in a hot 42.31sec to deliver Daniel Gibbons his first Group 1 victory.
“We’re stoked!” a jubilant Gibbons said.
“We always knew she was good enough, but I honestly don’t think she always gives it 100 per cent. She chases all the time but in some runs you can just tell she’s got something left in the tank.
“I thought she was drawn perfectly because she loves to sit on the rail and Korda (box 1) gets off the fence. But I was a bit worried when she was chasing Golden Quest because she doesn’t like going around dogs. Tonight was the first time she’s ever done it, so it was perfect timing!
“It’s been a progression. We won our first trophy and sash with Quinlan Bale in The Arrow at Healesville, then Yahiro Bale won a Group 3, Kelsey Bale won a Group 2 (Laurels) and now we’ve got a Group 1 to top it off. It’s pretty crazy!
“We’d run a few placings in Group 1s before – Kelsey Bale in the Temlee and Maturity and Titan Blazer in the Silver Chief.
“It is a relief and it’s massive because nobody realises how much you have to sacrifice. It’s a seven-day a week job and the dogs always have to come first.”
Golden Quest finished second, while Stagger Out Lee came from last to run third, but all honours were undoubtedly with the winner.
It was Ariarne Bale’s 13th win from 52 starts and fifth from her past seven.
It was a case of third time lucky on the G1 stage for Ariarne Bale, after she ran fourth in the Sale Cup and sixth to Stagger Out Lee in the Zoom Top invitational on the opening night of the ‘Unmissable’ Australian Cup Carnival.
Twelve months earlier, at just her fifth start, Ariarne Bale contested the G3 Country Championship on Australian Cup night, where she finished fourth, while she ran second in both the G2 Sydney Cup and Listed Cup Night Stayers.
It was fitting to see another ‘Bale’ added to the honour roll of the race which recognises the great Fanta Bale, winner of the Super Stayers in 2018, incredibly having won the Australian Cup one year earlier.
Kelsey Bale provided the icing on the cake for an unforgettable night for ‘Team Gibbons’ with a blistering 29.56sec victory in the $29,920 Sportsbet Australian Cup Consolation (525m).
Kesley Bale ($7.70) powered past Electrified ($12.40) and odds-on favourite Amron Boy ($1.40) in a performance reminiscent of her victory in the G3 Silver Bullet at the same venue last October, where she incredibly recorded the same scorching time.
“I was just as happy with Kelsey Bale’s win,” Gibbons said.
“It was a huge run but all her wins are special because I just love her!”
The other feature race winners on Australian Cup night were:
G1 Sportsbet Australian Cup Final (525m) – FERNANDO MICK (T: David Geall)
G3 GRV Vic Bred Maiden Final (525m) – AL’S ENTITY (T: Paul Abela)
G3 Country Championship Final (525m) – STEALTH (T: Jason Thompson)
Sportsbet Australian Cup Consolation (525m) – KELSEY BALE (T: Daniel Gibbons)
Cup Night Middle Distance (600m) – UDITA BALE (T: Samantha Grenfell)