Ken Casellas | Photo: Hamilton Content Creators
Lightly-raced New Zealand-bred pacer Mr Fantastic lived up to his name when he sustained a powerful burst to win the Group 3 John Higgins Memorial final at Gloucester Park on Friday night in a spirited performance which stamped him as a leading contender for the rich classic events for four-year-olds late this year.
The Justin Prentice-trained gelding gave champion reinsman Gary Hall Jnr his fourth victory in the Group 3 feature race and managing part-owner Kevin Jeavons his second success in the event.
It was a matter of 26 years between drinks for Jeavons, who owned Masterclass with his wife Robyn when that pacer, driven by Fred Kersley Jnr, won the Higgins Memorial in 1996.
Jeavons, who races Mr Fantastic in partnership with his son Kyle and Gino Monaco, has discovered the formula for success in the Higgins Memorial. Be represented by a four-year-old horse carrying the No. 12 saddlecloth and by an American sire out of a New Zealand mare.
Masterclass was a four-year-old when he beat Collector in the 1996 race, a 2500m stand. He was by American stallion French Chef and was out of the New Zealand-bred mare Countess Gina. Mr Fantastic is by champion American stallion Bettors Delight and is out of the New Zealand mare Its All On.
Mr Fantastic started from the outside of the back line in Friday night’s 2130m mobile event in which he was the $5 second favourite behind the polemarker Lucky Galleon ($3.10). Hall quickly manoeuvred Mr Fantastic into sixth position, one-out and two-back, with Lucky Galleon setting the pace from Hillview Bondi in the breeze and Moonlite Drive enjoying the sit behind the pacemaker.
Hall urged Mr Fantastic forward at the 900m mark, with a three-wide burst. Mr Fantastic moved to the breeze 300m later and got to the front 100m from the post before winning by just under a length from $126 outsider Markham Eyre, who finished strongly from the rear. Moonlite Drive fought on to be third, with Lucky Galleon wilting to fifth. The race was run at a solid tempo and Mr Fantastic rated 1.56.6.
“I was a bit worried that there might have been a swooper, but Mr Fantastic fought them off good,” said Prentice.
Mr Fantastic was off the scene for nine months while he enjoyed a beneficial spell and recuperated from being gelded. “He was working well at home last year but wasn’t quite taking that form in his races,” said Prentice. “So, we decided to geld him.
“He will be set for the big races for four-year-olds in December (the $125 Four-Year-Old Classic and the $200,000 Golden Nugget) along with stablemate Mighty Ronaldo.”
Mr Fantastic won at four of his 12 New Zealand starts and his ten WA appearances have resulted in six wins and two seconds which have taken his record to 22 starts for ten wins and four placings for stakes of $91,597.
His dam Its All On (by Art Major) was retired with a modest record of 12 starts for two wins, two placings and earnings of $10,200. Mr Fantastic’s five-year-old full-sister Bettor Get It On has earned $108,365 from eight wins and 14 placings from 38 starts. Her wins include the Group 3 Coulson Pace last December and the Group 2 Empress Stakes in April this year.
Hall’s previous wins in the Higgins Memorial were with Partywiththedevil (2010), In The Perfect Storm (2014) and Rub Of The Green (2016).