Caloundra horseman Darryl Hansen has opted to miss Wednesday week’s Ramornie Handicap in Grafton with his wonderfully consistent four-year-old Essington in favour of a run in the Ascot Handicap at Eagle Farm this Saturday.
Redoute’s Choice gelding Essington, a winner of nine of their 17 race starts to date, earned a black-type assignment after their brave two length victory in the Rockhampton Newmarket Handicap (1300m) on Thursday 23.
The Rockhampton win was achieved in record time, Essington saluting in 1:15.3 with 59kg on their back, proving their class and their potential and the winning decision from part-owner Merino Katsanvas.
A painting contractor in Townsville, Katsanvas owns a half-share in Essington who was sold for $50,000 by former owner Lloyd Williams at a tried horse sale last winner.
With over $249,000 in prize money, Essington has continued to rise through the ranks and was at first being prepared for a run in last Saturday’s Glasshouse Handicap at Hansen’s home track at Caloundra.
“I was going to get him ready for the Glasshouse but Merino wanted to win the Rocky Newmarket after he ran second in it with Iron Jug (second to Pocket My Pride in 2000) a few years ago,” Hansen said.
Originally Hansen named the $175,000 Listed Ramornie Handicap (1200m) on July 13 at Grafton as the next race for Essington, but has now decided to try for the $80,000 Listed Ascot Handicap (1200m) this weekend instead.
With the likes of dual Stradbroke Handicap winner Black Piranha and promising galloper Here De Angels confirmed runners for the Ramornie, Hansen believes the Ascot Handicap is a more achievable goal without the worry of having to travel down to the Northern Rivers.
“He travelled well to Rocky but he had a tough run to win in record time when he carried 59 kilograms,” Hansen explained.
“It was his first run since March and it could take a lot out of him if I took him to Grafton.”
Ace hoop Chris Munce, aboard Essington for six of their starts producing five wins, a second and a third, will maintain their association with the up-and-coming galloper for the Ascot Handicap.
A proven performer in the sprints, Hansen is also keen to see how Essington performs stepping up to the mile during either the Sydney or Melbourne Spring Racing Carnival next season.
“I only want to give him a couple of runs this campaign before I give him a short break,” Hansen said.
“I might take him away for the spring when he comes back into work next time but I’m not sure if it will be in Sydney or Melbourne.
“At this stage I’m playing it by ear until I see how he goes in his next couple of runs.
“He’s won over 1500 metres at Eagle Farm but I’d like to see him over a mile (1600m) before I look at his spring options.”
Essington has shown good form over 1500 metres previously when running third to Al Mazaya in a Handicap over the distance at Eagle Farm in March and also winning a Class One at the same track and trip last October.