Tara Jasmine wins Jacaranda Cup in heart-stopping finish

Benny Looker and Tara Jasmine just got there in the nick of time, beaten Ray Spokes and Bel Academy to win the Jacaranda Cup at Grafton on Wednesday. Photo: Trackside Photography.

According to Grafton trainer John Shelton, Tara Jasmine’s win in Wednesday’s Jacaranda Cup was ‘heart in your mouth’ stuff. 

“She had a gut buster, and she was made to work hard for the win, but she really put in for that last 100m and she deserved the win,” Shelton said. 

The Cowboy Blue mare started the $1.75 favourite in the 1100m feature, and she left the gates poorly, while Bel Academy blazed along in front, making every post a winner for jockey Ray Stokes.

Benny Looker had the job of steering Tara Jasmine through the field, and with a furlong to go, the pair trailed Bel Academy by at least two lengths.

The four-year-old dug deep though, showcasing her brilliant finish in the final half-furlong, when arriving just in time to edge her Coffs Harbour-trained rival by 0.39 of a length.

“She is a good filly,” Shelton said. 

“It was a close finish, but she pulled up well and we could have run her again today. She ate up well and she looks and feels great.”

Tara Jasmine now boasts six wins from 12 starts, and Shelton – a trainer who has seen many good horses come through his stables – suggested she could be the best he has ever trained.

“At this stage, it’s close,” Shelton said.

“Belflyer – he was a great horse, and he had a brilliant turn of foot – he won The Kosciusko and nearly won a Ramornie (Handicap) and he won a heap of races.

“She looks like him. She has the same sort of temperament and Benny Looker reckons she can sustain a longer sprint and he rode both horses, so it is a big call to make.”

Tara Jasmine could be on the path to the 2022 Ramornie, with her Grafton trainer pencilling in a few feature races for next year.

“Two weeks tomorrow (Saturday), there is a fillies and mares $125,000 race at The Gold Coast, and it is set weights and penalties and she will more than likely go around in that,” Shelton said. 

“I would love to win the Ramornie with her. She will have that one more run and go to the paddock and we will have a crack at the Ramornie and a couple of other nice races next year.”

Shelton has won the Grafton feature once before, back in 2000 with Mothers Gift, and he said winning the Ramornie again would mean a lot more to him than winning other richer races. 

“I won it in 2000 with Mothers Gift, and I’ve been placed in a few others. Bels Flyer ran second and Sir Dan ran third twice and he ran into Takeover Target one year,” Shelton laughed. 

“It’s definitely a race I want to win again. I would rather win the Ramornie than the Grafton Cup and other races, although I would take the other one if I had a horse good enough for that sort of race.”

Shelton said his mare would only improve in future preparations, and while he was wary of falling into the same trap as trainers by talking up his mare’s ability before she had the chance to showcase it on the main stage, he explained he couldn’t be more confident that she would make the next big step up in class.

“She is really good, and we have all those nice races in the back of our mind,” Shelton said. 

“She is immature, and I know a lot of trainers say it a lot, but I think she will be better next time in. She will run 1400m on her ear and she has a that good finish.”