Ten-time Group 1 winning Kiwi mare Melody Belle...
Shane Nichols will race on with his gutsy Ladbrokes Moonga Stakes 2019 winner Streets Of Avalon who will be kept in Group 3 company over the Melbourne Cup Carnival after his nice Caulfield victory.
The honest Magnus five-year-old relished the drop in class and distance off a tough Group 1 run in the Toorak Handicap (1600m) last time out to salute in the Group 3 $200,000 Ladbrokes Moonga Stakes (1400m) on Caulfield Cup Day.
Prepared out of Mornington, the gelding ran 11th to Fierce Impact in the Toorak having to do plenty of work in the mile feature on the back of an eye-catching fourth behind Begood Toya Mother at huge odds in the Group 1 Ladbrokes Sir Rupert Clarke Stakes (1400m).
This time Nichols opted to give his galloper an easier assignment and Streets Of Avalon rewarded him getting back to winning form for the first time since his Group 3 Ladbrokes Victoria Handicap (1400m) win at the same track and distance back in the autumn.
“For a horse like him, he bounces, gets up on the speed and finds the line, he’s very tough,” Nichols said.
“I thought he went up a level again to win a Group 3 like this. Around this level he’s damn competitive.
“The mile was just a touch too far.”
Streets Of Avalon ($5) went up from 56kg in the Toorak to 58.5kg in the Moonga Stakes, but thanks to a strong ride by Ben Melham had no worries under the weight running home to defeat Variation ($14) by a length.
In third rounding out the trifecta after a barnstorming late run was the previously undefeated and very lightly-raced raider Royal Meeting, Saeed Bin Suroor’s 60kg topweight running third as the beaten $3.60 favourite.
“Today they all looked at each other…but we got the lovely run,” Nichols added.
“He was exposed early, but he hit the line like a demon.”
Melham and Streets Of Avalon were forced to cover a bit of ground during an on-pace run in the Moonga, but the horse was always in a good rhythm and after controlling things on the outside scored a dominant win.
“He’s run in all the Group 1s and neve runs a bad race,” winning hoop Melham said after describing Streets Of Avalon as “underrated”.
“He tries his bloody guts out going to the line.
“He could have given up, but he didn’t, he went again so it’s a good asset.”
Nichols said they were not tempted to try Streets Of Avalon in top-level company again this season ruling out a shot at the Group 1 $2 million Kennedy Cantala (1600m) at Flemington on Derby Day.
Instead he named the Group 3 $200,000 Chatham Stakes (1400m) on the final day of the Melbourne Cup Carnival, November 9, as the next-up target.
Also on the cards could be a quick back-up at Sandown’s Ladbrokes Park Hillside on November 16 in the Group 3 $160,000 Sandown Stakes (1500m).
“There’s also the races in Dubai next year…we have got that in the back of our mind as well,” Nichols said hinting at a possible 2020 international campaign for Streets Of Avalon.
2019 Ladbrokes Moonga Stakes Results & Finishing Order
|1||4||STREETS OF AVALON||Shane Nichols||Ben Melham||–||9||58.5kg||$5|
|2||8||VARIATION||Stephen Miller||Damien Oliver||1L||6||57kg||$14|
|3||2||ROYAL MEETING (IRE)||Saeed Bin Suroor||Patrick Cosgrave||1.2L||8||60kg||$3.60F|
|4||7||MANOLO BLAHNIQ (NZ)||Tony Noonan||Jake Noonan||2.45L||1||58kg||$12|
|5||1||LAND OF PLENTY||Peter & Paul Snowden||Damian Lane||2.65L||2||60kg||$5|
|6||3||MOSS ’N’ DALE (NZ)||Peter Gelagotis||Jack Martin (a)||2.75L||7||58.5kg||$51|
|7||6||TOM MELBOURNE (IRE)||Chris Waller||Michael Walker||3.75L||3||58kg||$15|
|8||5||TERBIUM||Phillip Stokes||Luke Nolen||7.25L||4||58.5kg||$31|
|9||9||DESERT LORD||Michael, Wayne & John Hawkes||Dwayne Dunn||8.25L||5||57kg||$4.60|
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