BENALLA ran a phantom race last week when a torrential downpour hid the field in the $23,000 Benalla Bowls Club Plate over 1006m.
But Echuca racehorse Madam Superior was no spectre and emerged from the grey wall of rain to break its maiden at its third start.
Veteran race caller Ric McIntosh repeatedly apologised to the crowd and viewers on racing.com that he had no idea what was happening in the race.
The rain started falling as the last horse was loaded into the barrier and by the time the field jumped had got incredibly heavy.
Within 200m it was a torrent so heavy the 12 horses vanished and were not seen again until they were within sight of the winning post.
As they had arrived at the starting gate McIntosh commented the temperature had dropped dramatically since the first race at 1.30pm but added it was so muggy it was still uncomfortable.
As the race started McIntosh only had time to run through the field once before they disappeared.
“They are in driving rain somewhere on the side of the course, but fair dinkum it is absolutely smashing down,” McIntosh told listeners.
“They are running in an absolute downpour.
“Strike me pink; I don’t think I’ve seen anything like that, hats off to the jockeys for getting them around here,” he said.
“Dear, oh, dear, I’ve never seen anything like that — I’m sorry you got so little of the call but I could not see a thing.
“I’ve called in fog before but gee, never anything like that.”
Veteran jockey Dean Holland, who rode the winner for trainers Mick Cornish and Donna Gaskin, agreed.
“That was probably the worst race I’ve ridden in and I’ve been riding for 13 or 14 years,’’ Cornish said.
“Once it started it went from zero to 100 real quick.”
Cornish admitted he had no idea what was happening until he saw the horses reappear about 200m from the finish.
“But when we did see her she was kicking clear and that’s probably the best part you want to see,” he added.
When the third race started 30 minutes later the Benalla tracked was bathed in sunshine and stayed that way for the rest of the meeting.
Cornish said it was a “great effort by the jockey, by all those jockeys, in that extreme weather event”.
“Madam Superior can do a lot wrong but we’ve always said about this filly once she gets her head right and everything goes well she’s going to be a very nice horse down the track,” he added.
“I think she’s a very highly strung filly and I just think it’s going to be racing and the experience that goes with that to help her improve from there.”
Holland said Madam Superior was a nice horse that’s always showed a bit.
“Today I wanted to get cover on her and as it turned out I got a nice run but look, she was waterlogged from about the 600m — she had one ear going forward and one going back so she did well to win on a track like that, well, who knows what shape it’s in now,” Holland said.
“But in the end she did a good job and I think she’ll also go a bit further,” he said.
“You’ve got to be pretty forward to handle those conditions and I know all the horses had to run in it but she was the one that went away with it.”