Good Moe memories for Ferchie

TRAINER Simone Ferchie is hoping to be at the Moe Cup winner’s stall for the fourth time after Thursday’s $135,000 feature race.

But this time she wants to be there as the winning trainer of Lord Durante.

Ferchie was a teenage strapper for Moe Cup winner Royal Snack in 1994. It was the first Moe Cup involvement for Ferchie, but Royal Snack had won it the previous year and was led back by another strapper.

Royal Snack was back in the winner’s stall with Ferchie in 1995 and again in 1996 … making it four wins in four starts in the Moe Cup.

They said at the time that only a genius horse trainer could train a horse to win a significant country cup four years in a row. They were right.

Royal Snack was trained by an Australian racing hall of famer George Hanlon, who won the first of four Moe Cups with the horse when he was based at the former Epsom training track. Hanlon died in January 2010, aged 92.

His Moe Cup four-timer with Royal Snack was a notable achievement in an amazing career that included winning three Melbourne Cups (Piping Lane in 1972, Arwon ’78 and Black Knight ’84), four Adelaide Cups, a Caulfield Cup (Diatribe 2000), Sydney, Moonee Valley and Australian cups, Cox Plate (with his best horse, Family Of Man, in 1977); Australian and AJC derbys, AJC Oaks, Newmarket Handicap (with Correct ’60 and ’61) and many other significant group one races.

Most of his winners came from his stable at the former Epsom training track. Others came from the stables he established at St Leonards, near Geelong, in the 1980s. 

Royal Snack had one Moe Cup win under his belt when Ferchie walked into Hanlon’s stables at St. Leonards to start her job as a strapper for the master trainer.

She rode many of Hanlon’s great horses in track work (including Diatribe) and she was Royal Snack’s strapper for his last three Moe Cup wins. Later she graduated to assistant trainer.

Ferchie admired her former boss.

“Everything they said about George Hanlon’s ability as a trainer was correct,” she said. “He could win major races with ordinary racehorses.”

On Thursday Ferchie will drive Lord Durante from those famous stables at St Leonards to have a first runner in her name in the 2050 metre Moe Cup. She knows the trip will take about three hours and she hopes to remember the way.

Lord Durante, a six-year-old bay gelding, has raced 33 times for seven wins and 11 placings and $304,635 in stake earnings. He won over 1800m at Caulfield on July 6 and was runner-up to Bagman over 2000m on August 16. His past start was a mid-field finish behind The Cleaner in the JRA Cup (2000m.) at Moonee Valley on August 16.

“That is his racing routine,” she said. “He enjoys racing but likes a short break between runs. He is ready to run well, but a wide barrier (18) makes the task so much harder.”

A handful of scratchings on Wednesday and four emergencies in the final field might marginally improve Lord Durante’s starting gate to 13 or 14. 

Most significant scratching was local star Mourinho who was top weight with 62 kilograms – 5kg above his nearest rival. Trainer Peter Gelagotis will rely on his stalemate Hvasstan, who is second favorite.

Favourite in pre-race markets is Peter Moody-trained Kenjorwood (Regan Bayliss) and Moody will have a significant second-string with Quick Snitzel (Luke Nolen).

Other strong stables represented in the Moe Cup include Darren Weir (Prince of Penzance), Chris Waller (Trade Commissioner), David Hayes (Extra Zero) and Michael Moroney (Surpass).