By Isaac Murphy
When Jack Smith decided to bring Jungle Deuce from Forbes to the Brisbane Winter Carnival the first event, he enquired about was the Origin match race.
The Group races were important, but the trainer knew from experience nothing was more satisfying than winning a one-out race for your state.
He had his first taste of the concept in 2019 when Feral Franky took out the Match Race and two years on it was the peerless Jungle Deuce who found a way past brave Queenslander Extra Malt to clinch the series two, one for New South Wales to end a captivating night of racing.
“When Feral Franky got selected for the match race in 2019, I was a bit taken aback. Queensland had won the series in 2018 and my boy had been picked as our best hope in the match race,” said Smith.
“Winning that race ranked right up there with his best achievements. The buzz it generated in the industry and what a dream to come back and defend the title with another freakish talent a couple of years later.
“Having the series tied up after the sprint and distance races I was definitely feeling the pressure, but fortunately the dog wasn’t. He produced again on the big stage.”
Jungle Deuce and Extra Malt squared off in an epic match race where the southerner was a touch too good.
Extra Malt made a race of it early on, leading Jungle Deuce out of straight, but Jack Smith’s dog continued to find, edging to a lead that he wouldn’t relinquish.
The dog has now won four straight feature races, the Group 3 new Sensation, the Brother Fox at Dubbo, the Group 2 Flying Amy and now the Origin Match Race.
The place was a buzz leading into the match race after Tony Brett’s Orchestrate brought a raucous home crowd to their feet with a career best 29.66 gallop enough to win the Origin Sprint and force a live rubber.
Orchestrate has been a revelation for Brett in recent months coming from obscurity to win the Group Three Rockhampton Cup and Listed Young Guns, but this was his finest hour.
“Everyone was writing the Queenslanders off in the Sprint, but throughout the run my boy and Limited Edition were on the lure and didn’t look like getting beaten,” Brett said.
“He won the race in the run to the first mark. Not many go 5.43. He backed it up in the middle and still ran home strong, it was the perfect race.
“What an achievement by the dog to win a $40,000 race that’s Group calibre. But to do it on his home track with all the Queensland support is amazing.”
The pressure was on Queensland entering the sprint as emerging star Barsandi gave New South Wales the early ascendency in the Origin Distance final for a rapt Dave Richardson.
“I was tempering my expectations coming into tonight. She’s supremely talented, but to be racing Group One dogs at just her third start over seven hundred was some ask, and she’s pulled it off,” Richardson said
“She has brilliant splits over the six hundred and to be a chance I knew she had to be out in front and get them chasing.
“It didn’t look like she was going to get there early but she kept driving and found the front and the rest was history, what a way to win your first big race.”
While the Distance, Sprint and Match Race decided the shield for NSW there was plenty more Origin action on the night including the Emerging Origin Stars for dogs under twenty-seven months.
The Burman kennel were highly fancied in the race with Out of Champagne, who ran 30.33 on debut at Ipswich, but it was her older kennel mate Regal Rocky who pulled rank coming from well back to win.
The Regional Origin Challenge drew qualifiers from across Queensland and New South Wales who’d not yet had a metro win and it was Greg Cannon’s Bold Character who prevailed.