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Bluff called as favourite backers feeling ill

Date

David Polkinghorne

Runners in the Canberra Hummer Benchmark 75 Handicap.

Runners in the Canberra Hummer Benchmark 75 Handicap. Photo: Jay Cronan

Granite Bluff has put a mystery illness behind him to return to the winners' list at Thoroughbred Park on Sunday.

The seven-year-old, starting at $6, put in a determined run up the Canberra straight to beat $1.60 favourite Fullerton by a nose in the benchmark 75 handicap over 2000 metres.

Nick Olive's Fullerton controlled the race until the home straight when it became a sprint to the line between the two horses.

Thoroughbred Park barrier crew.

Thoroughbred Park barrier crew. Photo: Jay Cronan

Trainer Richard Clarke, from Braidwood, said the son of Marechal didn't eat for a week after finishing last in the Dubbo Cup in September. He was let-up for eight weeks while he recovered.

But Clarke was confident his gelding would win on Sunday despite finishing seventh to Rapauric in the benchmark 65 handicap (1600 metres) at Goulburn on Thursday.

''We thought he'd win one at either Goulburn or here and that's where we aimed him,'' he said.

Granite Bluff ridden by Richard Bensley came from behind to beat Fullerton ridden by Jeff Penza.

Granite Bluff ridden by Richard Bensley came from behind to beat Fullerton ridden by Jeff Penza. Photo: Jay Cronan

''He didn't finish off in Goulburn so we sort of wondered, but I thought if he put his best foot forward he could beat those horses today.''

Clarke was unsure where Granite Bluff would race next.

His son Luke broke in the horse for the breeder and then told Clarke to have a look at him.

Granite Bluff and jockey Richard Bensley after winning the Benchmark 75 Handicap.

Granite Bluff and jockey Richard Bensley after winning the Benchmark 75 Handicap. Photo: Jay Cronan

Granite Bluff has an impressive country cups record, winning the 2010 Orange Cup (2100 metres), as well as the 2011 Forbes and Coonabarabran cups.

While Olive missed out with Fullerton, which was going for his third straight win, he was successful with Extreme Shot in the maiden plate (1200 metres).

Extreme Shot sat fourth for most of the race before bursting to the lead at the top of the straight and opening up a three-length lead.

The three-year-old gelding then held off Wild Win to break his maiden status at just his third start.

Extreme Shot is yet to finish outside the placings.

The win came on the back of stablemate Capital Commander's half-length second to Samui Lad in the benchmark 90 handicap (1400 metres) at Rosehill on Saturday.

Canberra apprentice Taylor Lovelock-Wiggins rode a double on Sunday, riding Matthew Dale's Rock Speed to victory in the benchmark 60 handicap (1200 metres) and Magic Franco in the benchmark 55.

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