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The class of Joe Pride’s Group 1 winner Tiger Tees got them home first-up at Flemington in Saturday’s Aurie’s Star Handicap 2014 with the veteran racing in Melbourne for the first time in nearly two years.
Resuming off a three month break, before which the Group 1 The Galaxy winner ran dead last in Brisbane’s BTC Cup, Dubawi gelding Tiger Tees kicked off their new season and their seven-year-old campaign well.
While their Sydney form during the autumn was excellent, their Galaxy trophy followed by a TJ Smith Stakes fourth and third to Hana’s Goal in the All Aged Stakes, Pride opted for a Victorian return for his stable star.
Considered also for the Group 2 Missile Stakes (1200m) at Randwick, subsequently won by Gai Waterhouse’s gutsy mare Sweet Idea, the softer track conditions at Flemington attracted Tiger Tees to the $150,000 Group 3 Aurie’s Star Handicap (1200m).
There they carried the hefty 59.5kg top weight, and while those kilos looked to be getting to them in the final strides, Tiger Tees and reining Melbourne jockeys’ premiership winner Damien Oliver held on for the win.
On the line the $2.80 favourite, who led 300m out, had just a head to spare over the Tony McEvoy-trained Mr Chard ($12), the rejuvenated Al Samer stallion formerly prepared by Dean Lawson in Melbourne but now based in Adelaide.
Finishing off the Aurie’s Star Handicap trifecta a further length away third was then honest local galloper Zamorar ($8.50) who just nudged out the Peter Moody-trained mare Sino Eagle ($6.50) who came off a Caulfield win from late last month.
A winner of 12 of their 28 starts for a tidy $1,043,050 in prize money, Tiger Tees will now head towards the spring’s top sprint showdowns with Oliver predicting improvement to come.
“He’s a quirky kind of horse,” Oliver told the media on Saturday.
“He goes and waits a bit but he fought them off when he needed to.
“There’s a bit of improvement to come but he was pretty good for today.”
In their last Melbourne run before Saturday’s success the sprint star ran fourth behind Mental in the 2012 Group 1 Patinack Farm Classic (1200m) during the Melbourne Cup Carnival two years ago.
That same Flemington feature, held this year on November 8 and known as the $1 million Darley Classic, could then be their major goal this campaign.
Also on track for a Group 1 Melbourne run after resuming in the Aurie’s Star meanwhile were Text’n Hurley (7th) and last over the line Crackerjack King (11th).
Colin Little’s Hard Spun mare Text’n Hurley was beaten two and three quarter lengths in her first run since winning the Group 2 Sunline Stakes (1600m) at Moonee Valley back in March.
She’s heading towards the $3 million Group 1 Caulfield Cup (2400m) on the 18th of next month and pays $41 through Ladbrokes.com.au to take out the classic.
Crackerjack King meanwhile has $3 million Group 1 Cox Plate (2040m) ambitions for Moonee Valley’s weight-for-age feature on October 25.
Tendon issues delayed the Aussie debut of the Shamardal grey, now seven-years-old, who was beaten 13 lengths on Saturday in their first run since a fifth in the Group 1 Arlington Million (2000m) in the USA back 24 months earlier.
New trainers David Hayes & Tom Daberning are hoping they improve off their Aurie’s Star run obviously and prove better than their $51 price in Cox Plate betting suggests.
“It will be interesting when he pulls up because he was travelling really well but when I let him down, he went to quicken and then stumbled,” jockey Michael Walker said after Crackerjack King over raced early and then faltered in his action over the final few hundred metres.
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2014 Aurie’s Star Handicap Results
Flemington Racecourse – 09/08/2014
|1||1||TIGER TEES (NZ)||Joseph Pride||Damien Oliver||–||6||59.5kg||$2.80F|
|2||9||MR CHARD||Tony McEvoy||Nicholas Hall||0.2L||5||54kg (cd 54.5kg)||$12|
|3||3||ZAMORAR||David Bourne||Ms Katelyn Mallyon (a)||1.2L||1||55kg||$8.50|
|4||10||SINO EAGLE||Peter G Moody||Ms Linda Meech||1.4L||9||54kg||$6.50|
|5||12||SMACKDOWN (NZ)||Andrew Benyan||Jason Benbow||1.9L||11||54kg||$21|
|6||8||ROAD TRIPPIN’||Stephen Theodore||Stephen Baster||2.1L||4||54kg||$18|
|7||7||TEXT’N HURLEY||Colin Little||Chad Schofield||2.85L||3||54kg||$11|
|8||13||CREAMERY LANE||Andrew Benyan||Chris Symons||3.05L||2||54kg (cd 54.5kg)||$101|
|9||5||SHANGHAI WARRIOR||Pat Hyland||Ben Melham||3.55L||7||54kg||$6|
|10||11||GRAND EMPEROR||Saab Hasan||Dwayne Dunn||7.55L||8||54kg||$19|
|11||2||CRACKERJACK KING (IRE)||David Hayes & Tom Dabernig||Michael Walker||13.05L||10||58kg||$31|
|–||6||BROKEN||Darren Weir||Ms Michelle Payne||–||0||–||–|
|–||4||PILLAR OF CREATION||Mathew Ellerton & Simon Zahra||Damian Lane||–||0||–||–|
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