Next month’s Newcastle Cup has become a possible target for the Paul Nolan-trained Fantastic Blue after the progressive galloper scored a commanding city win at Doomben on the weekend.
Danehill Dancer five-year-old Fantastic Blue showed their potential as a stayer to watch this season and emerged as a candidate for the $185,000 Group 3 Newcastle Cup (2300m) on September 15 after their success in the $50,000 Liftronic Elevators and Escalators Open Handicap (2200m) on Saturday.
Ridden by premier jockey Chris Munce, Fantastic Blue ($4) was able to defeat last-start Grafton Cup winner Warrior Within ($5) by a tidy two and a half lengths while the Michael Nolan-trained Drumshanbo ($13) was just a nose away third.
Robert Heathcote’s narrow-priced favourite Work The Room ($2.10) failed to step up to 2200 metres successfully, his trainer now likely to shelve plans to take them down for the Melbourne Spring Carnival.
Fantastic Blue, however, earned a possible interstate assignment with the performance, his trainer now looking at the Newcastle Cup which would be the grey’s first race outside of Queensland and Nolan’s longest trip away from his Toowoomba base.
“The only horse I’ve taken interstate was Laurie’s Folly who won the big $20,000 maiden (at Lismore in 2002),” Nolan said on Saturday.
“I’ll give this bloke another run here in Brisbane in two weeks and if he wins that he’ll go down for the Newcastle Cup.”
Munce viewed Fantastic Blue as underestimated, but also said that the Newcastle Cup would be a notable rise in class for the gelding who had failed to finish better than seventh in their six Black Type starts to date.
“He’ll need to take the next step but if he can improve a little the Newcastle Cup isn’t beyond him,” Munce said.
“It was a good effort to win like he did (on Saturday), especially when he had to break 34 seconds (over the final 600 metres) to do it.
“He relaxed so well during the race and I knew Glen Colless was following me on Work The Room at the 600 metres waiting to pounce.
“Mathematically he had to run a good final 600 metres to win and he did just that.”
Fantastic Blue’s most recent stakes race was a seventh place finish behind Humma in the Listed Toowoomba Cup (2100m) back in March, which they contested just a fortnight after a testing run on a bog Eagle farm track over 2200 metres.
“I made the mistake of running him on a Heavy track at Eagle Farm before he failed in the Toowoomba Cup,” Nolan said.
“It killed him and it meant he had to have longer out in the paddock.”
Also on way to a Newcastle Cup run this year is Saturday’s runner-up Warrior Within, trainer Bruce Hill giving the King Cugat six-year-old plenty of praise over their efforts on the weekend.
“I thought it was a terrific run considering it was his first run in three weeks,” Hill said.
Warrior Within may also target elite level glory once down in Sydney for the Spring Carnival, Hill naming the $400,000 Group 1 Metropolitan Handicap (2400m) at Randwick on October 1 as a possibility.
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