Winning Partner became the first horse to win successive Balaklava Cups and bettors took a huge leap in the process.
A lot of betting ensued as the winning partner trained by Tony and Calvin McEvoy created a piece of history by becoming the first horse to consecutively capture the Listed Balaklava Cups (1600m) on Thursday.
Winning Partner was hitting $ 11 when the TAB markets opened before being heavily supported by $ 3.50 at the time of the jump, usurping the favorite Second Slip ($ 4.20) out of favor.
It happened after there was drama before they jumped when the Will Clarken-trained Second Slip left Todd Pannell on the way to the gates and was circling around the Balaklava field.
Pannell avoided serious injury as Second Slip rushed forward in form to start the show and Clarken’s gallop still produced a tough effort at speed.
But it was not enough to hold off a rampant Winning Partner as he raced down the center of the track under the insistence of stabler Barend Vorster to score by a comfortable 1¾ length from Second Slip.
Classy Joe ($ 41), trained by John Hickmott and Carrina Riggs, beat his big price to finish two lengths away in third place.
Vorster had driven Winning Partner, now the only horse to have won the Cup twice, with equally dominating success last year, while the victory also gave the McEvoys three straight wins in the main event.
“He’s the first horse to win two of them, and for us it’s three in a row, so that’s really nice,” McEvoy said.
“It’s a race that I love and a race that I love, so it’s great to win it again.”
Tony McEvoy first won the Balaklava Cup with Longshoreman in 2014 before claiming the race for the second time in 2019 with Brown Ben.
Winning Partner and Vorster have made the race their own for the past two years with the South African expat churning out a perfect ride in Wednesday’s main event.
“You have these kinds of horses in the yard that you always click and get along with,” Vorster told Racing.com.
“He always does the best he can. It gives me palpitations walking out the doors. In a way he leaves or thinks about it first.
“I was lucky enough to work in a beautiful position and it was just a matter of waiting, I came home and took him out to a clear space.
“But he always told me from 800 meters that he just wanted to stride.
“I kept waiting with him and the moment I let him go, he sped up.”
McEvoy confirmed that he will now consider giving Winning Partner a chance to defend his Murray Bridge Cup crown, but says he will have to give the gelding another race before then.
Originally posted as Plunge lands as Winning Partner claims back-to-back Balaklava Cup victories