Mason's Chance Wins Battle of the Bush

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MASON’S Chance, the horse that secured the final spot in the field at his fifth qualifying attempt, delivered Mackay trainer Olivia Cairns and connections the inaugural $100,000 Battle of the Bush Final at Doomben on Saturday.

In front of a packed members grandstand, full of anticipating connections, Mason’s Chance nailed first emergency Bush Caviar in the last stride.

The series featured 16 qualifying races and Mason’s Chance placed at Emerald, Home Hill, Thangool and Bowen, before finally winning at Barcaldine — as part of an 18 hour round trip, to earn his place.

Cairns aimed at this race at the request of owner Tania Robert, who was on hand with breeder Bill Young at Doomben on Saturday.

Cairns estimated that between the qualifying races and prior runs to ensure the horse was eligible, Mason’s Chance travelled the best part of 10,000km on a float.

“I can’t begin to explain what we’ve been through,” she said.

“The Townsville Cup was worth the same amount of money but it certainly wasn’t as prestigious as this race. It’s an amazing feeling, on a day like this.

“It’s great to do it with Justin (Stanley) as well. We’ve had a great success me and Justin. He won on Sporting Page in town last year and he won the Townsville Cup for me.”

Cairns won the Townsville Cup with Forest Pride in 2003 and describes Mason’s Chance as a similar horse.

“This horse reminds me so much of Forest. He was a head case as well,” she said. “You had to get into his brain more so than his body. This horse is exactly the same.”

Stanley, who is among the state’s most travelled riders and has come back from near career-ending injuries, rated Saturday’s win as being “up there with one of the highlights of my career”.

“I’ve been riding a long time and been lucky enough to win a lot of good races but this being the first running of it and for someone who’s been one of my biggest supporters the last 15 years, it’s terrific,” he said. “It’s something I will always look back on with fond memories.”

Stanley was beaten on Mason’s Chance two starts earlier at Bowen and was thrilled to be able to atone in the one that mattered most.

“He’s one of the toughest horses I’ve ridden,” he said. “He’s been to five qualifiers to get the last spot. He’s travelled half of Queensland and keeps backing up week after week. He just thrives on it.”

Illfracombe trainer Henry Forster scratched stablemate Drinking Cocktails to give his first emergency Bush Caviar a spot in the field and the seven-year-old looked the winner under Jim Byrne until Mason’s Chance dived late.

- by Nathan Exelby, Courier Mail

Photo courtesy Trackside Photography