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    LONE MARE ENCIPHER STEALS THE SHOW IN TAB EUREKA LONE MARE ENCIPHER STEALS THE SHOW IN TAB EUREKA

    INAUGURAL WINNER: Encipher won the First Eureka and Menangle is already gearing up for the next one.

    IT was a girl versus the boys in tonight’s richest-ever harness race at Club Menangle. Yet most thought it might be a Kate Gath... LONE MARE ENCIPHER STEALS THE SHOW IN TAB EUREKA

    IT was a girl versus the boys in tonight’s richest-ever harness race at Club Menangle.

    Yet most thought it might be a Kate Gath victory, with the star reinswoman driving Catch A Wave against a field of male drivers.

    Instead it was the “other” girl in the race, Encipher, the only mare in the field, who stole the show with a devastating win.

    While most expected Queensland champion Leap To Fame to steal the show, the super pacer did it tough, racing without cover for almost the entire 2400m journey.

    That meant trainer-driver Grant Dixon’s worst fears were realized when he was a sitting shot for his rivals in the straight.

    And it was Menangle’s No 1 reinsman Luke McCarthy, driving Encipher for Emma Stewart and Clayton Tonkin that was able to make the most of his opportunity, wearing Leap To Fame down in the final 100m and grabbing him in the shadows of the post to score a one and three-quarter metre win. The exciting Captain Ravishing finished third after trailing the leader Catch A Wave throughout the race.

    “That’s a huge thrill, for sure,” said McCarthy as he returned to the plaudits of a massive crowd.

    “I don’t get too many chances to drive for Emma and Clayton so this was a great opportunity and their horses are always so competitive wherever they go.

    “She was fantastic, this mare.

    “This is an amazing night and full credit to Harness Racing Australia for putting on a night like this with such a fantastic crowd.

    “It’s always a pleasure to drive good horses and certainly it’s great to win a big race like this.

    “You never get tired of things like that.”

    Like most big races in harness racing, things can change in a heartbeat.

    But most expected Catch A Wave to find the lead. He did that, although Dixon was quick to put Leap To Fame into the action and he found the death chair as they raced hard in the front with opening quarters of the last mile in 29.5 and 28.1 seconds.

    Then it was pedal to the metal as they went up the back straight in a slick 26.45 before burning home in 27.1 in a world record mile rate [for a mare] of 1:51.8 over the 2400m.

    McCarthy timed Encipher’s run to absolute perfection and while the winner was trained in Victoria and driven by a New South Welshman, it was the South Australians who were doing handstands as the mare was owned and bred there.

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    Michael Court

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