Clearly Innocent Snatches Cup from Heavy Track Star Jungle Edge
Written on the 29 May 2017
It was a sweet win for manager Bruce Neill of Cressfield when the 5yo gelding Clearly Innocent made his move from around the 300 metre mark and won by 3 lengths at the $700,000 Darley Kingsford-Smith Cup on Saturday.
This was the gelding's first Group 1 win out of 15 starts which clearly was worth waiting for considering the health issues he underwent. Prior to a trainer taking him on, he'd already cost Cressfield $50,000 in vet bills for a gelding he couldn't sell from stifle, hock and throat surgeries.
"We have a never-say-die attitude at Cressfield and we just gave him his chance. We sent him to Greg Bennett and from his first barrier trial we knew we had a racehorse," Neill said.
"It was worth every cent and Greg (Bennett) did a great job with him to win a Country Championships and still have a horse for later on.
"This win is about his skill as a horseman and the way he gave the horse Kris Lees allowed him to be here today."
Greg Bennett recently took a job with Aquis Farm, but he was a proud man, watching Clearly Innocent claim the victory from Jungle Edge with Counterattack another 3 3/4 lengths behind in third place.
"That is as good as winning any race as a trainer," Bennett said. "He had so many problems with this horse before I got him and we treated him with kid gloves.
"He is really special to me but he is Kris (Lees) now and he has done a great job with him."
Lees gave a nod to Bennett in recognition for all he did to prepare Clearly Innocent, as he collected the trophy. Lees now has his eyes set on the Stradbroke Handicap in a fortnight's time.
"He was in great order when I got him a couple of months ago and we looked at the Stradbroke back then and made a plan to get there," Lees said. "This is really a bonus because we thought he would be better suited in a handicap."
Trainer Mick Bell was thrilled with heavy track lover, Jungle Edge's runner up performance and unlike several leading contenders who abandoned their Stradbroke plans after taxing runs at Eagle Farm, Bell has decided to push on.
"He has pulled up exceptionally well so the ride continues and we're looking forward to the Stradbroke," Bell said.
"The winner was too good but halfway up the straight I thought we had them covered.
"When he races like that he usually doesn't get beat."
"The pace is different in a 1400m race and he had to rock along a little bit yesterday because of his barrier, so it could be a different story in the Stradbroke."
While other trainers were criticising the Eagle Farm track, Bell said the conditions favoured Jungle Edge and is hopeful that it will remain a soft to heavy track ahead of the $1.5 million feature on June 10th.
"Their bad luck is my good luck," he said.
"You need luck to win any of these races and we've been extremely fortunate to have some luck with the weather and the tracks."
After winning the BRC Sprint (G3) last week, Bell revealed Jungle Edge had been a welcome distraction, after losing his wife Beverley to breast cancer just three months ago.
"She would have loved to see what he's doing at the moment," he said. "Sometimes you just don't know what's around the corner."
Jungle Edge is rated an $11 chance in CrownBet's all-in market for the Stradbroke Handicap, with Clearly Innocent marked as $4.20 favourite after his Cup win.
(Photo: Hugh Bowman rides Clearly Innocent to victory in the Darley Kingsford-Smith Cup - Photo credit: Glenn Hunt)