By Adam Hamilton
IT was the ultimate finish to a stunning year.
Rejuvenated star King Of Swing locked away Australian Horse of Year honours and Grand Circuit champion status with a dominant $175,000 Group 1 Blacks A Fake win at Albion Park last night.
It followed his powerhouse Miracle Mile and Hunter Cup wins earlier this year.
And it was the final start in a 13-start season for Craig Cross and Luke McCarthy which netted 10 wins, three seconds and more than $1.1 million earnings.
Whether he’s the best horse in Australia or that tag sits with Lochinvar Art is open to debate, but King Of Swing boasts by far the best 2020 CV.
We’ll know more about his status alongside Lochinvar Art in coming months as King Of Swing defend his Hunter Cup and Miracle Mile crowns.
Co-trainer and driver Luke McCarthy confirmed they were the next two targets for King Of Swing.
“He’ll have a little freshen-up now and then it’s Hunter Cup time again. He won’ go down for the Ballarat Cup. He’ll get ready with a couple of Menangle runs and then just do and hit-and-run for the Hunter Cup,” he said.
“Then he’ll come back for one of the lead-up sprints and onto the Miracle Mile.”
McCarthy is adamant King Of Swing is better now than when he won the Hunter Cup/Miracle Mile double early this year.
“He’s more seasoned. We know him better. He’s some sort of horse, right up with the best I’ve driven,” he said.
“I said going into this (Blacks A Fake) race he was at least as good as we’ve ever had him and that’s how he felt.
“I think people underrate his sheer speed a bit. He’s so amazingly fast and he showed that when I let him go. He put a big gap on some really nice horses and did it easily.”
King Of Swing, crunched from $1.90 into $1.50, drew wide and somewhat surprisingly didn’t get involved in the early speed burn which saw former Kiwi comeback pacer Turn It Up blast across from the outside draw (gate seven) to lead.
King Of Swing was trapped three-wide without cover early, but McCarthy didn’t panic, let him balance-up and gradually worked around to sit parked.
The “gasp” moment of the race came at the 1600m (of the 2680m race) when McCarthy “lit-up” King Of Swing and zoomed past Turn It Up to take the lead, effectively ending the race.
McCarthy then dictated the terms, saved for a late sprint and blazed home in a 26.3sec last quarter to win as he liked by 12.4m in a 1min58.5sec mile rate.
Local hero and defending champion Colt Thirty One, who made a midrace move to sit parked, fought on well for second, while Turn It Up was third.
The other “Kiwi” runner, One Change, sat leader’s back and then three pegs and ran home fairly for fifth, almost 16m from the winner.
Colt Thirty One is likely to back-up and chase his 42nd win at Albion Park in the Christmas Cup next week.
Co-trainer and driver Shane Graham was pleased with Turn It Up’s run and didn’t rule-out a Hunter Cup raid.
“He was good. He’ll be even better when we can get some consistent racing into him,” he said. “The winner was just too seasoned and strong for us tonight.”