Trainer Mick Price confirmed plans to head to Flemington on Derby Day chasing the 2016 Coolmore Stud Stakes win with Flying Artie who did everything wrong but still won the Blue Sapphire Stakes first-up on Wednesday.
Classy Artie Schiller colt Flying Artie kicked off his three-year-old campaign at Caulfield Racecourse in the mid-week feature jumping odds-on favourite in the lucrative $350,000 Group 3 Blue Sapphire Stakes (1200m).
Champion Victorian hoop Damien Oliver returned to the saddle having ridden the up-and-comer for three of his four opening career runs as a two-year-old including the Blue Diamond Stakes second and Golden Slipper third in Sydney last start on March 19.
Flying Artie drew a treat for his first-up run in barrier four and flew out of the gates, settling on the rails in second behind the pacesetter Dalradian from the Darren Weir stables.
Rival hoop Brad Rawiller gave the field something to chase setting the strong pace on the $81 roughie, Reward For Effort colt Dalradian chasing his first win since a Cox Plate Day victory a year ago.
In third on the outside of the top fancy was Ken’s Dream, while the well-fancied filly Merriest was racing fourth throughout.
The Lindsay Park-trained Derryn, out to improve on his last start 10th to Astern in the Group 1 Golden Rose Stakes (1400m) from September 10, meanwhile was caught mid-field in traffic.
Coming around the turn Flying Artie evened up with Dalradian who was in for the fight.
The hot favourite was within striking distance once on the straight, but raced very green and Oliver fought to keep him balanced and racing straight towards the finishing post.
It was far from the straightforward win the punters and bookies had tipped, Flying Artie racing erratically over the closing stages.
Eventually Flying Artie ($1.95) charged forward and flew away to defeat Dalradian ($81) by one and a quarter lengths, the runner-up having raced so bravely on the speed holding for the top two finish.
After making up the ground and looming over the last 300m, Derryn ($7.50) rounded out the Blue Sapphire Stakes trifecta in third shaping-up as the best closer with improvement to come.
Also boasting plenty of upside, Flying Artie did so much wrong but was still too good for his rivals in the end in a terrific sign he’d come off the lengthy spell in good order.
“He did a lot wrong, especially once he got 100m out and thought that was it,” winning trainer Price said post-race.
“He took a bit of riding.”
Price was pleased with the end Blue Sapphire Stakes result however and happy with his decision to run the galloper before heading to Flemington on VRC Derby Day, October 29, for the $1 million Group 1 Coolmore Stud Stakes (1200m).
“Just as well I raced him,” he said.
“It’s only 18 days to the Coolmore and that’s the race we need to win with him.
“Today will help. He hadn’t been to the races for a long time.
“I think today he raced pretty green. He raced like a horse that needs racing.
“I’m just glad I ran him because the experience will do him good for the Coolmore.
“First thing I’ll be doing is allowing him as much time as he needs to bounce back and get over it.”
Price chases his first Coolmore Stud Stakes win and could be there to secure the quinella in a repeat of the Blue Diamond Stakes with stablemate Extreme Choice also bound for the Group 1 classic.
He was the definite pick of the two for Price at this stage looking at the Coolmore Stud Stakes as well based on what Flying Artie showed in the Blue Sapphire Stakes.
“On that [the Blue Sapphire Stakes run], Extreme Choice would’ve beaten him [Flying Artie],” Price said.
“Extreme Choice is very hard to the line. He’s very aggressive to the line.
“This horse wouldn’t want to be having a wander around when taking on Extreme Choice.”
The 2016 Coolmore Stud Stakes nominations close on October 24, so now is the time to check the all-in markets on Price’s duo for the three-years-old Melbourne Cup Carnival sprint at Ladbrokes.com.au.
2016 Blue Sapphire Stakes Results & Finishing Order
Caulfield Race 6 – 12/10/2016
|1||1||FLYING ARTIE||Mick Price||Damien Oliver||–||4||57kg||$2F|
|2||3||DALRADIAN||Darren Weir||Blake Shinn||1.25L||10||57kg||$81|
|3||6||DERRYN||David & B Hayes & T Dabernig||Regan Bayliss (a)||1.75L||2||57kg||$7.50|
|4||4||KEN’S DREAM||Darren Weir||Dean Yendall||2.75L||5||57kg||$4.80|
|5||7||MANOLO BLAHNIQ (NZ)||Tony Noonan||Steven Arnold||2.85L||8||57kg||$61|
|6||13||CALL ME TESS||John Moloney||Jordan Childs (a)||3.85L||3||55kg||$101|
|7||2||HIGHLAND BEAT||David & B Hayes & T Dabernig||Damian Lane||4.85L||12||57kg||$31|
|8||8||RADCLIFFE||John O’Shea||Craig Williams||6.6L||7||57kg||$31|
|9||12||MERRIEST||Danny O’Brien||Nicholas Hall||6.7L||6||55kg||$9.50|
|10||5||BARTHELONA||Michael Moroney||Ryan Maloney||6.8L||9||57kg||$21|
|11||10||HEPTAGON (NZ)||Mick Price||Craig Newitt||9.05L||1||57kg||$31|
|12||11||MR TICKLER||John Salanitri||Stephen Baster||9.55L||11||57kg||$201|
|–||9||PALLADIAN||Michael, Wayne & John Hawkes||Dwayne Dunn||–||0||–||–|