Purrfect Grafton Cup for Costa

Michael Costa took the Grafton Cup back to his old rented apartment after winning the $200,000 feature event with Perfect Deal on Thursday. Photo: Michael Costa Racing.

Former steward and now trainer Michael Costa lived out a dream at Clarence River Jockey Club on Thursday, training Purrfect Deal to victory in the $200,000 Grafton Cup. 

The four-year-old was ridden a treat by Ben Thompson, with Purrfect Deal finding the lead on the home straight before holding off the fast-finishing pair of Laure Me In (Matthew Dunn and Jim Byrne) and Parry Sound (Bjorn Baker and Michael Cahill) to win the 2350m event.

An emotional Costa, who once trained in Grafton, explained what the result meant to him.

“I’ve dreamt about winning this race for 13 years, so it is a very emotional day,” Costa said.

The Bjorn Baker trained Spencer ran them along in the feature race and Costa said it allowed his charge to get the dream run in behind the leader, before peeling off its back and taking the win.

“Spencer putting the pace in the race enabled Purrfect Deal to get into a ‘sweet’ spot and this mare is just so tough,” Costa said.

Purrfect Deal started a $3.40 favourite in the event, and her jockey said she very much earned what he believed was a tough victory.

“She is an out and out stayer, but she had to earn it today,” Thompson said.

“Although we drew barrier five, I had to use a bit of gas but ended up finding the rail. We were following a decent horse (Spencer) and a good jockey in Christian Reith on the leader. “She gunned it out really well.”

It was another big day for the Clarence River Club with their feature meeting on the five-day carnival attracting some terrific racing. 

In the second biggest race on the day, Grafton trainer John Shelton and Luke Rolls combined with Jule’s Spirit to take out the $75,000 Sir James Kirby Handicap, beating Remlaps Gem and Attila.

The five-year-old did it well in the 1000m Open Handicap, making it career win number eight from start 28.

The Grafton carnival will continue Sunday with the running of the Maclean Cup meeting.