Hawkesbury trainer Terry Croft left the Forbes Cup meeting 12 months ago with a heavy heart – and minus a stable favorite, but he was back there again on Monday for the 2017 renewal, and this time returned home with a winner for the third year in a row.
Croft followed his 2015 success with Four Suns at the popular annual meeting by also winning last year with Colonial Reign. However, the day ended on a tragic note when Vite Loni went amiss during the race and had to be humanely put down.
It didn’t stop him from fronting up again – and this time there were smiles all round. Croft won the Class 1 Handicap (1400m) with well-backed $2.45 favourite No Escape, who thrashed his rivals.
Given a perfect run by talented apprentice Jean Van Overmeire, the five-year-old romped home by three and a half lengths from Fairy Fragments ($5.50) and Heroes ($21).
“This was the race we set him for,” a delighted Croft said afterwards. “I was a bit worried he might have too much weight, but it didn’t matter. He was always going to win in the run.”
Van Overmeire’s 1.5kg allowance lessened No Escape’s weight to 60kg, but he dashed away in the straight as though he had 10kg less.
No Escape broke through for his first success at Gosford on New Year’s Eve and carried excellent provincial form into the Forbes event.
He resumed when third on his home track over 1000m on July 6 and a fortnight later finished fourth over 1200m at Gosford.
A gelded son of former smart sprinter Shellscrape, No Escape has raced only 15 times and, now that he has broken through again, appears capable of winning more races: “We’ll probably look for a suitable race for him at the provincials,” Croft added.