Igbo (Hannah Phillips, inside) narrowly defeated Raining Riches (Chris Meehan) at Nanango’s Spring race meeting
(Photo: Paul McInally, Three Way Photos`)

Gunsynd's Gossip

September 30, 2021

The part-owner of two Melbourne Cup heroes has added a Lee Park double to his list of credits.

Back in 2017, Mark Ruff – the principal of a Victorian construction company – had his first crack at a Melbourne Cup by way of shares in a pair of candidates.

Although a dead heat would have been the preferred outcome, the quinella completed by Rekindling and Johannes Vermeer was the next best thing.

The internationals (with Lloyd Williams as the main owner) were respectively prepared by Joseph O’Brien and his father Aidan.

But wait! There is more …

Last year, Ruff was again on the winning side when Twilight Payment earned the loving cup.

The Teofilo nine-year-old, as a lead up to an assault on November’s Cup renewal, beat all bar the unlikely starter Sonnyboyliston in the recent Irish St Leger.

At Nanango on September 11, two gallopers bred by Mark Ruff took out the first couple of events on the card.

Chahpingah trainer Tom Moloney and jockey Hannah Phillips scored narrowly with Igbo and Diggity, a duo that Ruff bred and now races with his wife Shelley and Burrandowan identities Bob and Dorothy Black.

Both horses were formerly domiciled at Mick and Luke Cerchi’s Flemington yard.

Ruff operates his Bulla Thoroughbreds on a large set up at Diggers’ Rest near Melbourne.

The campdrafting stawart first put a toe into the racing world during his student days in the 1980s when he worked at Colin Little’s Caulfield stables.

The initial taste of Group One success came Mark’s way when Sacred Star, a gelding he bred by matching Flying Spur with his O’Reilly mare Irish Nova, saluted in the 2015 Telegraph Handicap at Trentham.

Irish Nova in turn produced the unraced Zabeel filly Zanova, whose first foal by Equiano (Fr) was Igbo.

Twilight Payment’s dam is Dream on Buddy.

Ruff certainly has relished plenty of sweet moments through scenarios at Flemington and Nanango, and there may well be more to come.

Diggity makes it two from two for the Tom Moloney-Hannah Phillips combination at Lee Park (Photo: Paul McInally, Three Way Photos)`

* * *

Bits And Bridles

  • It was very pleasing to note that Sharryn Livingstone has chalked up another victory as a trainer. Her short priced charge Iolite won at Caloundra on September 19. She collected her first win with Heart Vandelay at Kilcoy last November at just her fourth throw at the stumps. The Falvelon gelding prevailed again at the same course in August. Sharryn, who has helped out with clerk of the course duties at Lee Park, currently has an admirable rookie’s form line of 21: 3-3-2. Her father Ian is also a Deagon based trainer while her brother Jason, a member of the Nanango Race Club Committee, also dabbles in preparing thoroughbreds.
  • Jason Missen, a familiar face at Burnett tracks, continues to be a real journeyman in far flung parts. His double at Longreach on September 25 and followed on from wins at Winton and Ilfracombe and a double at Jundah. His other ports of call in recent months include Corfield, Muttaburra and Dingo.
  • The South Burnett Race Club has a major day coming up on Saturday 16th October. The $12,000 Wondai Cup (1577m) serves as a qualifying heat for the lucrative $105,000 Country Cups Challenge Final to be staged on December 4 at Doomben. The Spring Floral fashion theme will be immensely popular.
  • Meanwhile, Saturday’s $1,000,000 Turnbull Stakes at Flemington is a centre of attention. Verry Elegant has been withdrawn from the $1,000,000 Hill Stakes in Sydney and so Incentivise faces an acid test in his march for elite glory. Although there are interstate variations at play, the ex-Queenslander’s official Handicap Ratings are worth exploring. After his Sunshine Coast maiden breakthrough in April, he was marked at 58. A 76 grading stood when he jumped from the gates for the Ipswich Cup. The lightly raced five-year-old progressed to 82 for the Tattersall’s Cup. Prior to the VRC Makybe Diva victory, it was 102. Presently, the Shamus Award gelding has a Victorian assessment of 112 with Verry Elegant (119) and Sir Dragonet (116) the only upcoming rivals with a superior rating. Under the set weight and penalty conditions of the Turnbull, Incentivise comes in slightly better than standard weight-for-age.

Enjoy this exciting time on the turf!

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