King Of Swing creates history in Hunter Cup

King Of Swing creates history in Hunter Cup
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MORE history awaits champion pacer King Of Swing.

Having become the first pacer to win two Hunter Cups and two Miracle Miles, he is favourite to be the first three-time winner of the $1 million Miracle Mile at Menangle on March 5.

And it could be the last race of his stellar career which already has him seventh on the all-time Australasian stake-earners list at $2,786,046.

Connections have declared he will be retired to stud at the end of this season, meaning the Miracle Mile or Group 1 Blacks A Fake at Albion Park in July will be his swan song.

King Of Swing is one of eight two-time Miracle Mile winners, but none have been able to add a third since the race started in 1967.

Co-trainer and driver Luke McCarthy declared the seven-year-old “at least as good as ever” after he took advantage of a perfect pole draw and dictated last night’s Hunter Cup to beat emerging star stablemate Spirit Of St Louis.

He blasted home in closing splits of 54.2 and 25.9sec at the end of a comfortable 1min56.7sec mile rate for 2760m, the slowest Hunter Cup since former Kiwi great Smolda won in 2016 in a 1min57.3sec mile rate.

“Sure, he had a lovely run in front, but he did that so easily. He felt great,” McCarthy said.

“I know there was a bit of talk around about whether he would be able to lead or not, but I never doubted it. He’s almost impossible to get past when he’s in front.”

The stats back it up with King Of Swing leading in 36 races and winning 33 of them, including his two Hunter Cups and two Miracle Miles.

He drew poorly and had to sit outside the leader and winner Lochinvar Art when third in last year’s Hunter Cup.

Now it’s back to Sydney and his favourite track, Menangle, for a Miracle Mile qualifier on February 26 and the Mile itself a week later.

King Of Swing has raced 19 times at Menangle for 16 wins, two seconds and a fifth.

But incredibly, he is unbeaten in 10 starts over a mile at the track, including four times at Group 1 level and the two Miracle Miles.

“He’s a great horse, as good as I’ve had anything to do with, his record shows that,” McCarthy said. “But there’s no doubt the mile at Menangle is his absolute sweet spot. It’ll be great to get him back there.”

Spirit Of St Louis underlined his stunning emergence when he followed a trio of major Victorian Country Cup wins – Bendigo, Shepparton and Ballarat – with a slashing second last night.

“He’s amazing. That was some effort to do some early work like he did and still pull some ground off ‘King’ late in a 25.9sec last quarter,” driver Jack Callaghan said. “He’s absolutely flying.”

He will get another crack at King Of Swing in the Miracle Mile, as will champion mare Amazing Dream and comeback star Lochinvar Art, who ran third and fifth respectively last night.

While King Of Swing and Spirit Of St Louis will go through the qualifiers at Menangle on February 26, Lochinvar Art is set to tackle the Group 1 Newcastle Mile on February 18.

“He’s definitely going to Newcastle,” owner Kevin Gordon said. “It’s my home town and I really want him to race there.”

Lochinvar Art, who beat King Of Swing in last year’s Hunter Cup, found the task of sitting outside the “King” at just his third start back from 11 months on the sidelines with injury beyond him. He tired late, but was only beaten 7.1 metres.

“We knew he wasn’t back to where he left off, he’s still building,” Gordon said. “It’s another step in the right direction and getting back to sprint racing is ideal now. Give him a better draw and some more racing and he can turn the tables in the Miracle Mile.”

Adam Hamilton

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