Smart four-year-old Howmuchdoyouloveme has won their first start for new trainer Tina Cotsiopoulos on Stradbroke Handicap Day 2013 earning a likely title defense in the upcoming Ramornie Handicap in Grafton after their $80,000 Listed Lightning Handicap (1000m) success.
Previously prepared by Con Karakatsanis who copped a disqualification from training this season, Written Tycoon gelding Howmuchdoyouloveme has now won six of their 12 career starts and looks set for another good preparation.
Last winter the horse won all three of their starts with back-to-back Brisbane victories followed by a four length romp in the $150,000 Listed Ramornie Handicap (1200m).
Also a Group 2 winner having won the Caulfield Sprint in Melbourne first-up last October, it had been a hit and miss start for 2013 for Howmuchdoyouloveme on the track.
After a credible third behind the speedy Snitzerland in the Group 2 Challenge Stakes (1000m) at Warwick Farm in March they were outclassed in their last two runs at Group 1 level.
Well beaten when second last to Bel Sprinter in The Galaxy they were last seen finishing seven lengths away seventh to the since-retired superstar Black Caviar in the TJ Smith Stakes in mid-April.
It was back to the winners’ stall today however with a big drop back in class suiting the always honest sprinter.
Still not everything was in Howmuchdoyouloveme’s favour with the gallant galloper allocated the hefty 59.5kg topweight and drawn wide with gate 16 of 17.
“There wasn’t a lot going for him, he had topweight, outside barrier, he did well,” Cotsiopoulos said after the race.
“It was a long straight and I was just hoping he could hold on.”
Hold on they did, overcoming those obstacles and proving themselves as the rank horse in the Lightning Handicap much to the delight of one of their biggest fans, jockey Brenton Avdulla.
“He always runs well for him (Avdulla),” Cotsiopoulos said.
Avdulla has ridden the horse throughout their career and believes they are now right on track for another shot at the Ramornie Handicap 2013 on July 17 having bounced back to form today to beat home an eye-catching Delago Bolt (2nd) who came out of nowhere and I’m Cool (3rd).
“He’s been a big help to my career,” Avdulla said.
“He’s been racing in the Group 1 races and he was pulled back today.
“1000m is probably not his go…developing into a seven furlong (1400m) horse.
“Onwards and upwards he’s in for another good prep.
“Haven’t spoken to connections but I’m sure another Ramornie is the way to go.
“Up to the 1200m…a freshen-up for the Ramornie would be ideal.”
Howmuchdoyouloveme was away from their wide draw quickly after the Lightning Handicap jump settling in third behind early leader Pentasia.
They really joined in with abut 300m left to travel after hitting the straight, drawing away at the 50 metre mark for a strong win having raced up on the speed.
After looking like a sitting duck waiting for something to run past them, Howmuchdoyoulove me trounced his rivals looking back to their best.
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2013 Lightning Handicap Results & Finishing Order
Eagle Farm Race 4 – 08/06/2013
|1||1||HOWMUCHDOYOULOVEME||Tina Cotsiopoulos||Brenton Avdulla||–||16||59.5kg||$13|
|2||5||DELAGO BOLT||James Lyons||Anthony Allen (a)||2L||6||55.5kg||$9|
|3||9||I’M COOL||Desleigh Forster||Michael Cahill||2.2L||10||54kg||$15|
|4||11||G’DAY OLD MATE||Barry Squair||Darren Gauci||2.5L||9||54kg||$21|
|5||6||PENTASIA||Marc Quinn||Christian Reith||2.7L||7||55kg||$4.60F|
|6||2||RIVER LAD||Natalie Mccall||Eddie Wilkinson||3.1L||1||59kg||$11|
|7||13||DIAMOND EARTH||Anthony Cummings||Peter Robl||3.9L||8||54kg||$8|
|8||4||EXCELLANTES||Robert Heathcote||Damian Browne||4.1L||3||56kg||$7|
|9||3||SATIN SHOES||Clarry Conners||Chris Munce||4.3L||5||57.5kg||$7|
|10||15||LADY LA DOUCE||Terry Croft||Jim Byrne||4.5L||11||54kg||$51|
|11||17||ERVBEFEL||Raelene Feil||Paul Hammersley||4.6L||4||54kg||$201|
|12||7||LIESELE||Liam Birchley||Glen Boss||5.1L||15||54kg||$21|
|13||12||VINTAGE MOSS||John M Fitzgerald||Kerrin McEvoy||5.3L||17||54kg||$11|
|14||10||ROCKER||Kelly Schweida||Glen Colless||5.8L||12||54kg||$17|
|15||14||FALVELINA||Tony Gollan||Timothy Bell||8.1L||2||54kg||$41|
|16||16||CONFIDENT STAR||Gillian Heinrich||Dwayne Dunn||8.4L||13||54kg||$101|
|17||8||JOINT CHIEFS||Brian Wakefield||Ryan Wiggins||8.7L||14||54kg||$15|