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Alma's Fury in upset Apollo Stakes win
Caryl Williamson
07:14 AEST Sun Feb 24 2013

Driving rain made it almost impossible to see who had won the Apollo Stakes and even when the result was called, trainer Paul Murray didn't believe it.

Alma's Fury was entered in Saturday's Group Two Apollo (1400m) at Warwick Farm as a necessary lead-up to the National Sprint in Canberra next month.

In a field littered with Group One winners, Murray held no hope Alma's Fury could match it with them on the heavy track based on his previous form.

But Blake Shinn had him poised to strike in the straight and Alma's Fury ($19) did the rest, coming down the outside to beat Tougher Than Ever ($4.60) by a long neck with Danleigh ($9) another head third.

"I can't believe it. I'm dumbfounded," Murray said.

"He's never liked the wet but he needed to run today because he is going to the National Sprint.

"He was a fit horse going into it while a lot of the others were stayers first-up.

"But even so, I could never have dreamed he would win."

Shinn had no preconceived ideas and said the horse felt good from the outset.

"He travelled like the winner a long way out," he said.

"I kept him out of trouble on the fresh ground and he did the rest."

The race was without one of the favourites when Shoot Out was withdrawn due to the track downgrade to a heavy 9.

His Chris Waller-trained stablemates filled the minor placings ahead of future Group One assignments.

"It was a great run by Danleigh and he will go to the Chipping Norton," Waller said.

"Kelinni (5th) and Gatewood (6th) will also go there along with Shoot Out."

The win capped a big day for Shinn who returned to riding on Friday after an extended break forced on him after he collapsed at Gosford in January.

He satisfied doctors he was ready to return and tuned up for the Apollo with victory on the promising Jacquinot Bay.

"It's a great way to kick-start the autumn," Shinn said.

"It gives me a lot of self satisfaction.

"There's a big autumn ahead and this is a big stepping stone."

Many of the runners didn't handle the track including Group One-winning Gai Waterhouse-trained stablemates Glencadam Gold and Laser Hawk.

"Two strides after the barriers he was gone," Tommy Berry said of Glencadam Gold.