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Happy Go Plucky in rare company with Caloundra Cup triumph

Thu 1 July 2021

By Glenn Davis

Ipswich Cup winner Happy Go Plucky will earn a place in the history books if the rising eight-year-old claims the Listed Caloundra Cup at the Sunshine Coast on Saturday.

Only three horses Henderson Bay (2001), Portland Singa (2004) and Shenzhou Steeds (2012) have completed the Ipswich-Caloundra Cup double since 2000.

Happy Go Plucky proved a giant killer and the bookies' friend when he scored an upset win in the Listed Ipswich Cup over 2150 metres two weeks ago.

Ridden by Stephanie Thornton, Happy Go Plucky gave Gold Coast trainer John Gilmore a rare city winner and a career highlight in Australia when he outgunned the Chris Waller-trained So You Win.

Gilmore, 73, has been training for 35 years and has a wealth of experience behind him training in Macau and China.

“I trained for five years in Macau and won their biggest races, the Derby and Director’s Cups but in those days, they weren’t Group 1s,” Gilmore said.

“I then trained on mainland China for about six years in the early 2000s before I took up a managerial role for one year at the jockey club in Wuhan.”

Gilmore has a small team of five horses in work at the Gold Coast and is considering  backing up Happy Go Plucky in next week’s Listed Grafton Cup over 2350 metres.

“His win in the Ipswich Cup qualified him for the Grafton Cup so I’ll probably throw in a nom for that now,” he said.

“He ran in the Grafton Cup a few years ago but he got too far back before he finished sixth.”

Gilmore is unconcerned about a wet track for Happy Go Plucky, who has won 10 of his 62 starts.

“He’ll take some beating again and likes wet tracks,” Gilmore said.

“He’s won a couple of times in the wet and he’s very fit.”

Gilmore - who returned to the Gold Coast to train about five years ago - has named interstate raider Stockman as the main threat in the Caloundra Cup.

Topweight Mirage Dancer will also earn a place in history if he can carry 61kgs to victory in the Caloundra Cup.

The Trent Bussutin and Natalie Young-trained Mirage Dancer is third-up this campaign and is coming off a last start second to boom stayer Incentivise in the Group 3 Tattersall’s Cup at Eagle Farm last week.

The highest weighted horse to win the Caloundra Cup was imported stayer Index Linked who lumped 59 kilograms in the Caloundra Cup in 2015.

Index Linked’s win beat the previous mark held by former New Zealander Shenzhou Steeds who carried 58kgs to win the 2012 Caloundra Cup.