Halls Gap Cup win completes hat-trick for Spanish Vixen

A decision not to enter his mare Spanish Vixen in the Marong Cup at Bendigo last weekend paid dividends for Stawell trainer Paul Jones.

Jones had been contemplating a trip to Bendigo with the improving five year old, but due to the heat, he opted instead to tackle the Grampians Halls Gap Cup over 2000 metres at the Stawell Racing Club meeting at Ararat on Tuesday.

The outcome saw Spanish Vixen claim victory in the $17,000 feature race, completing a hat-trick of wins which also included an impressive victory in the Great Western Cup.

As luck would have it, the Grampians Halls Gap Cup was originally scheduled to be run at Stawell on January 17 over 1300 metres, but the meeting was abandoned due to the extreme heat.

With the subsequent Stawell meeting transferred to Ararat on Tuesday, this allowed the Halls Gap Cup to be run over 2000 metres, an ideal distance for Spanish Vixen.

Jones said it really was a case of everything just falling into place at the right time.

"It was a bit fortunate for us in a way that the meeting in January was abandoned, because 1300 metres was too short her," he said.

"When I nominated her for the meeting at Ararat, I didn't know the 2000 metre race was going to be the cup, but looking through it, I knew she would be a big chance even though we drew a wide barrier. It all worked out well for us in the end."

Jones said after Spanish Vixen had won the Great Western Cup in impressive fashion, he was undecided where he would take the mare next. After ruling out the Marong Cup at Bendigo, he had considered a run in the Naracoorte Cup, but thought the track may have been too hard.

"I thought it was no good taking her to Naracoorte if the track was too hard, because it wouldn't suit her," he said.

"There was no point giving her that run and then having her pull up sore.

"With the changes to the Halls Gap Cup, everything just fell into place. It was nice."

Jones once again praised the ride of talented young apprentice jockey Lily Coombe, who also partnered Spanish Vixen at Great Western.

"Lily did a great job. She rode the horse a treat and showed maturity beyond her years," he said.

"Even when the other horse passed her, Lily didn't panic. She just got her into a good position and made sure she finished the race off. It was a fantastic ride."

In the end, Spanish Vixen gave her rivals no chance at all, storming to the front shortly after turning for home and kicking clear to win by more than two lengths in the Grampians Halls Gap Cup.

The feature event was dominated by Stawell trainers, with the David Noonan trained Space Diva continuing her run of consistent form this preparation with a second placing and the Terry and Karina O'Sullivan trained Who Says I'm Ready also running on strongly for third.

Jones said he would wait and see how Spanish Vixen pulls up after the run before he makes any future plans with his star mare.

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