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It was far from an easy ride for jockey Mark Zahra but in the end the odds-on pick Chains Of Honour was simply too strong for his rivals in an ugly but impressive 2019 Grand Prix Stakes win at Eagle Farm on Saturday.
The punters heavily-backed the up-and-coming Gerald Ryan-trained stayer in markets for the Group 3 $250,000 Grand Prix Stakes (2206m) in Brisbane after the gelding’s first-up win at Hawkesbury on December 8.
It was a late decision from Ryan to bring the horse to Queensland for the Group 3 but it proved the right call as the untapped son Redoute’s Choice out of 2009 VRC Oaks winner Faint Perfume celebrated his first Black-Type success at career start number four.
Coming back from 59kg for that two-length win last start over 1800m to 57kg in the Grand Prix Stakes, Chains Of Honour jumped $1.90 from a favourable barrier two draw with Mark Zahra in the saddle.
Things went amiss early however with Zahra caught out three then four deep with his mount shifting out around the first turn.
Despite racing wide, Chains Of Honour worked well around the outside of his rivals to take up the lead midrace without having to do too much work.
On the final corner the top fancy was up front and charging home but then inside the last furlong, Chains Of Honour shifted out again racing wayward.
Again, Zahra remained calm and the horse responded, powering home for a two and a half-length victory over the Mark Newnham-trained Mission Phoenix.
Robert Heathcote’s locally-trained son of Mossman, Mosshiki, finished off the trifecta working his way into third a further length back again in the Grand Prix Stakes results.
“There just wasn’t anything for him, so I thought let’s see what is available in Brisbane. I saw this race and I felt it would be perfect for him provided there was some pace,” Ryan said post-win.
“Never did I think he would end up leading but once he was there, I wasn’t worried because I know he would just keep going.”
Having proved his potential as a stayer, Chains Of Honour is likely to target the Group 1 Queensland Derby back in Brisbane next May.
Ryan is also keen to see how the horse progresses ahead of the autumn with a potential Group 1 Australian Derby (2400m) run at Royal Randwick in April on the cards.
“He will go home to the water walker and then we can see how he looks. The Australian Derby certainly isn’t off the table,” he said.
Looking further ahead, there is also the chance for Chains Of Honour to be stretched out over the two miles that could open up a Group 1 $7.75 million Melbourne Cup (3200m) target in the spring.
“When he won his maiden at Gosford, I told his owners they might have their first hurdles winner and then when he won first-up I said he might be a Jericho Cup (4600m) horse,” Ryan said.
“But all jokes aside. He is a dead-set stayer and I think he will get 3200m at least.”
2019 Grand Prix Stakes Results & Finishing Order
|1||5||CHAINS OF HONOUR||Gerald Ryan||Mark Zahra||–||2||57kg||$1.90F|
|2||6||MISSION PHOENIX||Mark Newnham||Larry Cassidy||2.5L||10||57kg||$4.40|
|3||4||MOSSHIKI||Robert Heathcote||Michael Rodd||3.5L||4||57kg||$13|
|4||2||SMART METEOR||Chris Munce||Justin Huxtable (a)||3.9L||11||57kg||$8|
|5||8||SAVVY VALENTINO (NZ)||Bjorn Baker||Brad Stewart||4.65L||9||57kg||$26|
|6||3||SOUTHERN SWING||Darryl Hansen||Ron Stewart||5.9L||6||57kg||$21|
|7||1||DON’T WAIVER||Stuart Kendrick||Robbie Fradd||7.65L||7||57kg||$9|
|8||10||PRIVATE DETECTIVE||Gregory Hickman||Micheal Hellyer||8.65L||5||57kg||$101|
|9||7||TEARS OF LOVE||Matt Kropp||Gary Geran||14.4L||8||57kg||$61|
|10||9||HALEIGHOZAE||Garry Schwenke||Luke Tarrant||21.9L||3||57kg||$201|
|11||12||REAL IT IN||Peter & Will Hulbert||Adin Thompson (a)||22.9L||1||55kg||$151|
|–||11||ALIGNMENT||Bryan & Daniel Guy||Mark Du Plessis||–||0||–||–|
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