by Ben Dorries
The Stradbroke Handicap-winning trainer turned back to the TV in the final stages to see filly Tiger Shark, who had covered more ground than the early settlers, having the temerity to keep coming and fight out the finish over 1000m.
Three-year-old Tiger Shark, who is owned by Boost Juice mogul Jeff Allis, finished fourth but was beaten less than half a length in a blanket finish at the Sunshine Coast.
McCall had already suspected Tiger Shark, who cost just $12,000 as a weanling, was the real deal.
But the Sunshine Coast run confirmed it and now the filly will step up to take on stakes grade in the 1200m Listed Mode Stakes (3YO fillies) as the Queensland winter carnival gathers steam at Doomben on Saturday.
“When Tiger Shark was wide I thought she would run well, but wasn’t going to get near them,” McCall, who won the 2014 Stradbroke with River Lad, said.
“Then when she was run off the track, I thought we were going to run last.
“I literally walked away from the TV, I was pissed off, and I heard the race caller say she was in the finish.
“I thought what the hell?
“Then I turned back and I thought ‘wow’ that was good, she just died on her run a little bit late.
“For her to have the audacity to loom up to them on the bridle, it was pretty crazy.
“She just blew out a little bit the last bit, because she had such a tough run.
“We have had a pretty good opinion of her the whole way through.”
Saturday’s $160,000 Mode Stakes could potentially be the summer grand final for Tiger Shark, who didn’t have much of a break after her winter campaign.
McCall and Allis are keen to keep plenty of petrol in Tiger Shark’s tank for a serious crack at the 2024 Queensland winter carnival.
McCall’s main concern after Tiger Shark’s luckless run on the Sunshine Coast was whether it had taken a lot out of her.
But, thankfully, she quickly allayed any concerns and McCall declared the daughter of Rich Enuff ready to rumble on Saturday.
“I was worried straight after the race that the run would have taken a bit out of her,” McCall said.
“But she is a really tough filly and she went home and ate everything.
“I rode her afterwards thinking she would be a bit jaded, but she was fine.
“She is all good, no dramas.
“There is a little bit more improvement going into the Mode Stakes, it’s where we want to be.
“She will be schmick for Saturday.”