The Astrologist is officially a Flemington straight specialist after taking out the Group 3 Aurie’s Star Handicap (1200m) at Headquarters in dominant style.
The bombproof Leon and Troy Corstens-trained sprinter sat on speed and kept finding to hold out the fast-finishing Romancer.
Despite a lengthy campaign, Corstens’ assistant trainer Dom Sutton confirmed The Astrologist would press on towards the Group 1 Sir Rupert Clarke Stakes (1400m) at Caulfield on September 18.
“Over the moon, another terrific effort from the horse,” Sutton said.
“He hasn’t put a foot wrong this preparation and absolutely flying at the moment.
“The plan is to get him to the Rupert Clarke, we’ll map out a path … in the next few days I’d say.”
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The Astrologist started the year in Queensland as Team Corstens aimed for the Stradbroke Handicap.
While running well in the Sunshine State the stars never aligned and The Astrologist returned to Melbourne to begin his Flemington streak.
The five-year-old Zoustar gelding won back-to-back races down the straight prior to a last start third at Caulfield in the Group 3 Bletchingly Stakes behind Sansom and Streets Of Avalon.
Damien Thorton rides The Astrologist to victory. Picture: Racing Photos via Getty ImagesSource:Getty Images
While Romancer darted up along the inside for second, Too Good Too Hard finished strongly down the middle of the track to grab third.
But nothing came close to worrying The Astrologist.
Favourite Aysar disappointed, finding nothing when the pressure went on and faded poorly, while King Of Hastings pulled hard early and finished next to last.
Banquo appeared to get every chance, tracking up behind Aysar but also failed to run on.
Winning jockey Damien Thornton gave The Astrologist a nice push looking ahead to the Group 1 assignment.
“He should be hard to beat the way he‘s going,” Thornton said.
“He’s obviously flying … had a few runs and going as good as ever.
“You can only keep raising the bar and he‘s still performing, last start only got beaten three quarter (of a length) behind some decent horses.”
– Gilbert Gardiner and Brad Waters
SAME, SAME BUT DIFFERENT
Melbourne champion jockey Jamie Kah got on the board for the new season in almost identical fashion to last year — winning for the same co-trainers, in the same colours, at the same track on a different horse.
Tavidance delivered Kah the first of her record 105 metro winners last season on the corresponding card and 364 days later Mick Price and Michael Kent Jr-trained SUNFALL ($5.50) replicated the feat.
Sunfall let down strongly in the straight to mow down STAR SPIRIT ($5 fav) and FORGOT YOU ($9).
The three-year-old Zoustar gelding holds an entry for the Group 1 Caulfield Guineas but Kent Jr resisted brash race day predictions.
“He’s fair dinkum Saturday class, hopefully he makes the next step but time will tell,” Kent Jr said.
ZORRO PUTS RIVALS TO SWORD
A run of five straight minor placings finally ended with a deserved win for ZORRO’S DREAM in the Jockeys’ Celebration Day Sprint (1100m).
Zorro’s Dream’s last win was in a Benchmark 64 race at Bendigo on May 2 before the Mitch Freedman-trained sprinted posted four seconds and a third in his next five starts.
But Saturday’s was Zorro’s Dream’s day as the $8.50 chance enjoyed a cosy run before outsprinting TERAMIA ($11) and MODEAR ($17) to score by a half-length.
Freedman said Zorro’s Dream was not up to spring class but the gelding could have another run or two before the city races get too strong for him.
MAD ABOUT TURAATH
Maddie Raymond toasted a second Flemington winner – third metro success overall – when TURAATH ($8) bolted in on Saturday at Headquarters.
The British import, which Raymond sourced from owner John Nicolls following a trip to Dubai, made it back-to-back Melbourne wins after success at Sandown Lakeside last month.
Turaath sat outside the leader rounding the bend and booted clear under Jye McNeil to put about four lengths on runner-up AIDENSFIELD ($4).
It doubled as McNeil’s first Melbourne winner since April 10.
The Cup winner, who rode a double at Moe last week, sat out six weeks following minor ankle surgery.
McNeil spent time in Adelaide and Brisbane during the winter months.
Turaath was a dominant winner at Flemington. Picture: Racing Photos via Getty ImagesSource:Getty Images
Star jockey Mark Zahra was taken to hospital with a suspected rib and elbow issue after being unseated from SECOND SLIP on the way to the barriers in Race 5.
Second Slip was subsequently scratched after bolting towards the Flemington training centre.
CLASS DROP SUITS MISS ALBANIA
Trainer Enver Jusufovic wasn’t confident pre-race but MISS ALBANIA’S late surge earned the mare victory in the VRC Member Kate Crosby Sprint (1100m).
Miss Albania finished less than a length from the winner when resuming at Caulfield on July 24 but dropped from Benchmark 90 to Benchmark 84 class for her second-up run.
The Peter Moody-trained Oxley Road led on the inside for most of the race before jockey Liam Riordan brought Miss Albania home near the outside rail to score her fourth win in seven starts.
“Was I confident today? Not really,” Jusufovic said.
“(It was a) little bit of a guessing game but certainly give credit to Miss Albania.”
Jusufovic said Miss Albania’s owners could target a stakes race for the five-year-old in the coming weeks.
RAN THEM INTO THE GROUND
Star jockey Damian Lane continued his brilliant association with Anthony and Sam Freedman-trained GROUNDSWELL ($4.40), taking their record together to five wins from nine starts.
Groundswell jumped to the front and stayed there the trip to resume an impressive winner, holding out KING MAGNUS and RED CAN MAN.
Red Can Man appeared to get every chance in a stalking position but failed to reel in the winner, while King Magnus launched late under Alana Kelly‘s light weight (51.5kg) but ran out of ground.
Sam Freedman was pleased with the performance, which sets up the stakes-performed Listed winner for the spring.
TAB BETTING WRAP
Lombardo was very soft late in the Jockeys Celebration Day Sprint (1100m).
Although jumping favourite, Lombardo went $3.10-$4.40 although it was clearly the most popular runner in terms of money taken. Zorros Dream ($8.50) went around as the second most popular galloper and was TAB’s worst result. Lombardo held a quarter of the total investment.
BETS: Zorros Dream $1000 @ $8.50
Turaath had consistent support throughout the day leading into the running of the VRC Member Julie Purnell Plate (1410m). The Maddie Raymond galloper was $12 on Wednesday and opened $6.50 this morning, however, got out a touch to $8.50 at start time.
It was one of the better supported runners but Lindhout ($2.50-$3.10) carried the bulk of investments. It was 10 times as popular as the winner and was responsible for 43 per cent of the market.
BETS: Turaath $1200 @ $7.50
The most confident move in the VRC Member Kate Crosby Sprint (1100 metres) was for the winner, Miss Albania. The daughter of Magnus was backed from $6.50-$5 on the day and was the second most popular runner in terms of money taken. She held 20 per cent of the money.
Punters nailed the race as Oxley Road, the runner-up, jumped $6 after being $4.40 in the morning but he held the most money.
BETS: Miss Albania $1000 @ $6.50, $1000 @ $5.50, $1290 @ $5
Groundswell defied the drift to land the money after leading throughout in the VRC Season Premiere Plate (1410m). Opening the day as $3.20 second pick, Groundwell got out to $4.40 at the jump to be on the second line of betting with Red Can Man ($3.90-$4.40).
King Magnus ($3-$2.80) continued to have strong backing on the day after TAB went up $6 on Wednesday. Overall, King Magnus held over half the total investment.
BETS: Groundswell $1000 @ $4.40 MULTIPLE TIMES, $1000 @ $4.20 MULTIPLE TIMES, King Magnus $15,000 @ $2.80
One of the “good things” of the day just got there in the VRC Member Justin Hoy Trophy (2000m). Hosier jumped $1.60 favourite after being $1.80 in the morning.
Going around four times as popular as anything else in the race, Hosier was responsible for 44 per cent of the money.
Tooradin ($11-$17-$15) was best backed outside the fav.
BETS: Hosier $5000 @ $1.75, $43,000 @ $1.70, $4285 @ $1.70, $6000 @ $1.60
One of the more popular gallopers at TAB saluted in the World Horse Racing Aurie’s Star Handicap (1200m).
The Astrologist always seems to have support whenever it goes around and today was no different, jumping a $6 chance and the second best supported runner behind Aysar ($8-$4.80-$5).
Those two were the only ones to hold six figures with TAB but it was a very open betting affair with moves for a number of runners. Among those were Order Of Command ($8-$9), Banquo ($7), Too Good Too Hard ($11-$10) and even Tactical Advantage ($61-$34-$51).
BETS: The Astrologist $1000 x $500 e/w @ $6/$2.30, $1000 @ $6, $1000 @ $5.50 TWICE, Aysar $4900 @ $4.80, Order Of Command $4000 @ $8.50, Sirius Suspect $4000 x $1,000 e/w @ $12/$3.70
Originally published asThe Astrologist shines again at favourite track
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