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Missile Shoots to Dazzling Classic Win for North’s Top Team
An emotional Tom Hedley paid tribute to his long-time friend and trainer Roy Chillemi after the duo landed their fifth Lawrence & Hanson 2YO Classic (1200m) with the explosive Missile Thunder at Cluden Park.
“It’s been a long association – over 30 years – and Roy is like a brother. There’s never been a cross word between us in that whole time,” Hedley said when he accepted the winner’s trophy on Saturday.
“Roy and his team have done a fantastic job with this horse – as they always do. I feel quite emotional.”
Ridden by Stephen Wilson, Missile Thunder (1.50 fav) did what many thought was a foregone conclusion with his powerhouse display, coming from second last early to race clear for a 1 3/4 length win and remain unbeaten in six starts.
The Smart Missile gelding breezed home to beat smart Rockhampton sprinter Better Rain with Dashing Gee Gee third in a super quick 1m:09.49s.
Hedley said the win was every bit as good as Tyzone’s victory in the same race in 2016. The win also came on the same day as Tyzone’s G1 Stradbroke Hcp win at Eagle Farm three years ago.
He had good news for local racing fans but bad news for rivals when he said Missile Thunder would continue to race in the north.
“He’s every bit as good as Tyzone, 100 per cent. He’s pretty exciting,” Hedley said.
“Far North Queensland is where we want to be, and be competitive in our game, which we are.
“Yeah money is one thing but coming to Townsville and winning these races is the pinnacle of racing in the Far North.
“That’s where my head is and my heart is and it’s the same for Roy. Let’s just look after them when they’re young horses – which Roy does so well – we’ll see what happens after next year.
“As Roy said we’ll give him four months off. Obviously we won’t bring him back this year, we’ll see how we can place him through the three-year-old races during the carnival next year and hopefully do what we did with Grey Missile and be competitive in the Cleveland Bay Hcp.”
Chillemi, a conservative marker of his horses, said Missile Thunder had proven himself against tougher opposition in the Classic.
“I was very confident he’d run well but you don’t know how good they are until they race better quality horses,” Chillemi said.
“Better Rain ran second in the Jewel at the Gold Coast and he’s obviously pretty smart.
“I thought if we could beat the Rocky horses we’d win.
“He and Tyzone stunned me with the times they’d run at home. They are special types of horses that do it like it’s not a lot of effort.”
Missile Thunder’s emergence as the rising star of northern racing is timely for Hedley following the retirement of Tyzone and the people’s champ The Harrovian who both won more than $1 million in prizemoney.
The Harrovian will see out his days on the Tablelands while Tyzone has recently returned to his breeder.
In the meantime, the North’s most enduring racing partnership is already planning for next year’s Classic with a team of 11 yearlings they bought at this year’s Magic Millions sale.
Pictured: Connections of Missile Thunder with sponsors from Lawrence & Hanson after their big win in the 2YO Classic.
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