BALLARAT premier horse trainer Darren Weir added another jewel to his racing crown by securing one of country Victoria’s most prized doubles at Warrnambool on Thursday.
Imported Irish stayer Akzar ($3 favourite) raced away with the listed $200,000 Warrnambool Cup, 2350m.
Almost as significant as the victory was Weir securing a Mercedes Benz as a Warrnambool May Carnival trainers’ bonus.
Ballarat’s Weir became only the second winner of the desired bonus, which goes to a trainer who can prepare four winners – including one of the four major feature events – over the three days of the carnival.
Robert Smerdon previously took out the prize in 2010.
Akzar gave Weir him his second big win of the carnival.
Gotta Take Care took out the Galleywood Hurdle on Wednesday, but this could not be taken into account in Weir’s bid for the car as it did not meet the number of starters criteria.
Akzar completed a winning double for the day for Weir and gave his Ballarat/Warrnambool training operation seven winners for the carnival after a double on Tuesday and treble on Wednesday.
The Cup and his domination of the three days continues an outstanding season for Weir.
As well as having a firm grip on a second statewide trainers’ premiership, he is a tearaway leader in his bid for a first Melbourne metropolitan trainers’ premiership.
Akzar gives Weir two Warrnambool Cups, with True Courser having won the race in 2005.
A seven-year-old by US-bred sire Selkirk, Akzar has been a revelation since joining Weir’s stable – based at his beachside stable at Warrnambool.
Originally imported by Lloyd Williams and later prepared by Rob Blacker, Akzar won at his first run for Weir at Moonee Valley in January this year.
The Warrnambool Cup gives him four wins and two seconds from six runs for Weir, taking his lifetime tally to eight wins and $488,000 in earnings.
And this campaign might not yet be over.
Weir hinted the Brisbane Winter Carnival might now be on the cards.
Akzar, which was ridden by Brad Rawiller, indicated there is plenty left in the tank in running away by six lengths from the Smerdon-trained Westsouthwest ($14), with Shoreham ($21) third.
Akzar’s win also rounded out a special day for Ballarat’s Payne family.
Stevie Payne, who works for Weir, strapped Akzar; his brother Patrick trained Chaparro to victory in the $250,000 Grand Annual Steeplechase, 5500m, and sister Michelle won on the Weir-trained Statumsphere.