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The Australian Cup 2018 at Flemington is earmarked as the first of three likely Melbourne Autumn Racing Carnival Group 1 targets for last Saturday’s impressive Zipping Classic winner The Taj Mahal.
Now prepared at Macedon Lodge, the Lloyd Williams-rained Irish import was dominant at Ladbrokes Park storming three and a half-lengths clear of stablemate and former Melbourne Cup winner Almandin in the Group 2 $300,000 Zipping Classic (2400m).
The Darren Weir-trained favourite Big Duke meanwhile crossed a further length and a quarter back third.
A four-year-old son of Galileo, the former Aidan O’Brien-trained The Taj Mahal handled the short seven day turnaround after the strong lead-up fourth to Tosen Stardom at Flemington in the Group 1 $2 million Emirates Stakes (2000m) and showed off his genuine staying talent with the mile and a half success.
“We actually thought he should have went close in the Emirates Stakes last start, but I just wasn’t able to ride him in the manner that I did yesterday because they just went too fast for him early in the Emirates Stakes and we got stuck in behind,” winning hoop Melham told RSN on Sunday.
The stable have named the Group 1 $1.5 million Australian Cup (2000m) at Flemington on March 10 as an early autumn target for The Taj Mahal, the stallion also Sydney-bound next time in.
Following the Australian Cup, the galloper is likely to head to Rosehill a fortnight later for the Group 1 $700,000 Ranvet Stakes (2000m) and the Group 1 $1.5 million The BMW (2400m) on March 31.
“We were keen to run him today just to learn a bit more about him, it’s his first go at the mile-and-a-half and he’s done a good job,” Nick Williams told the media on Saturday.
“He’s a colt with probably the best pedigree in the world so we’ve probably got to try to win some of these good mile-and-a-quarter races.
“I would’ve thought Australian Cups and Ranvets would be his go and maybe we’ll stretch him out to The BMW.”
Melham was ultra-impressed with The Taj Mahal in the Zipping Classic over the weekend, the horse responding in outstanding fashion from the 1000m before racing away, and rates him as a genuine autumn star to watch in the New Year.
“He is a very tough horse, there’s not many horses out there that can pick up in a race and sustain a gallop for that period of time and that is his asset,” Melham said.
“What I was also impressed with was he was so strong on the line and even a furlong after the line, still holding the same tempo as he was up the straight so he’s an incredibly tough horse.
“I was so impressed with the sectionals he could run from that far out and more importantly it shows that he’ll be able to run further if need be.
“I think overseas he was used as a bit of a leader…quite often when horses get headed over here in Australia they think the job is done but he’s a better horse than that.
“He was very genuine yesterday.
“I think he is going to have a promising autumn and even more so next spring.”
To back The Taj Mahal next race and to access all the best early autumn racing odds and offers, head to Ladbrokes.com.au today.
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