Tonopah has withstood a late charge by Melbourne Cup hero Prince Of Penzance to win the Group 3 RA Lee Stakes (1600m) at Adelaide’s Morphettville Racecourse this afternoon.
Tonopah continued to drift in betting in the hours leading up to jump this afternoon, but experienced a carefree start and was settled just off the early pace of Rhythm To Spare, Kingdoms and Rocket Commander.
Hugging the rails and poking to the fore of the field upon arriving at the final straight, the Rock Hard Ten gelding kicked clear with 300m to race and opened a gap of around four lengths.
Appearing home and hoses, the five-year-old weakened noticeably in the final stages of the Group 3 feature, but had done enough to ensure he would find the line a head in the clear of stable mate Prince Of Penzance; Rocket Commander boxing on for third.
Tonopah has been a commendable performer for trainer Darrien Weir since first arriving in his care in late 2014, and has posted a career total of eight wins and three minors through twenty-seven starts, following this afternoon’s triumph.
Capping a smart 2015 campaign with success in the Donald Cup (1620m), Tonopah resumed this time for sixth in each of the Listed Hareeba Stakes (1200m) and Wellington Racing Club BM84 (1440m); returning to the winner’s circle in a Morphettville minor over 1600m in his only other start prior to the RA Lee Stakes.
Prince Of Penzance had not been seen at the races since charging home to win the Melbourne Cup at triple figure odds, but proved he is again a horse to watch in 2016 with his impressive run for second this afternoon.
Jumping from the gates only fairly, the Pentire gelding was caught wide throughout the entire 1600m of the RA Lee Stakes but produced his signature late turn of foot to be unluckily denied on the post.
Rocket Commander charged home for third in the Group 2 Queen Of The South Stakes (1600m) at Morphettville a fortnight ago, and had clearly taken plenty of benefit from the run with a similarly strong showing this afternoon.
Prince Of Penzance remains a $51 chance of defending his crown in early 2016 Melbourne Cup betting markets with Ladbrokes.com.au.
2016 RA Lee Stakes Results
|1||9||TONOPAH (USA)||Darren Weir||Dean Yendall||–||1||55kg||$5.50|
|2||1||PRINCE OF PENZANCE (NZ)||Darren Weir||Ms Michelle Payne||0.4L||11||59kg||$13|
|3||12||ROCKET COMMANDER||Wayne Francis & Glen Kent||Ms Jamie Kah||0.7L||7||54kg||$16|
|4||5||ATLANTIS DREAM (NZ)||Darren Weir||Nicholas Hall||1.3L||3||55.5kg||$4.80|
|5||2||ALPINE EAGLE||Tony McEvoy||Mark Zahra||2.6L||2||57.5kg||$2.80F|
|6||6||RHYTHM TO SPARE (NZ)||Michael Moroney||James Winks||4.2L||10||55.5kg||$13|
|7||3||TALL SHIP (IRE)||Darren Weir||Dwayne Dunn||4.5L||5||56kg||$10|
|8||11||QADIR||David Jolly||Craig Williams||5.2L||6||55kg||$51|
|9||7||ALCOHOL||Richard Jolly||Jake Toeroek||5.8L||4||55kg||$31|
|10||10||FLOW METER||John Hickmott||Steven King||7.8L||9||55kg||$91|
|11||8||KINGDOMS (NZ)||Michael Hickmott||Craig Newitt||8.8L||8||55kg||$14|