Last year’s seven-length champion Zaaki returns...
Godolphin’s veteran galloper Home Of The Brave was too good late in the Aurie’s Star Handicap 2020 results at Flemington on Saturday handing jockey Damien Oliver with his record fifth win in the Group 3 event.
A nice early lead-up to the bigger Melbourne Spring Racing Carnival races over the coming months, the Group 3 $160,000 Aurie’s Star Handicap (1200m) was a two-horse battle late between the James Cummings-trained nine-year-old Home Of The Brave ($5) and the race favourite Great Again ($4.40).
In a good training effort by Cummings, he freshened-up the son of Starspangledbanner after the galloper’s solid efforts in the Listed Straight Six (3rd) and Civic Stakes (4th) over the winter.
Brought back to target the Aurie’s Star, Home Of The Brave relished a drop back from 60.5kg last time out to 59kg and was given the perfectly timed ride by Oliver.
After suffering a slight knock just after the jump from Great Again who veered to the left, Home Of The Brave rebalanced and settled third on the outside of the front-runner Yulong January.
“I just got a bit sandwiched. I think he wasn’t brilliant away but the horse on the outside jumped in on top of me,” Oliver said of the run.
“I got through that and then let him come to the outside of Great Again. It wasn’t too much of a disadvantage.”
Once on the straight, Lindsey Smith’s in-form Straight Six winner Great Again, coming off a lead-up Group 3 third in the Bletchingly Stakes at Caulfield, was charging down the middle but had a fight on his hands late as Home Of The Brave lifted.
Digging deep, Home Of The Brave nudged out Great Again for a three-quarter length win, while the Tony & Calvin McEvoy-trained Adelaide Guineas winner Game Keeper caught the eye in a gutsy third looking set for a nice spring carnival.
Oliver has dominated the Aurie’s Star Handicap in recent years wining four of the last seven and five overall following previous victories aboard: Mic Mac (2009), Tiger Tees (2014), Shiraz (2015) and Voodoo Lad (2018).
The imported Home Of The Brave made his Australian debut in the 2018 Aurie’s Star just nudged out when second to the Oliver-ridden Voodoo Lad.
“He’s nine now so obviously he’s not getting any better but he’s holding his form,” Oliver said.
“He was well placed today, the reduction in the weights, and he’s got good form down the straight and the soft conditions, too. Everything went perfect today.”
It was a good showing from Home Of The Brave ahead of the spring with the horse winning for the first time in nearly 700 days.
“An unbelievable run from the horse,” Godolphin stable rep Sean Keogh told the media post-win.
“He was very tough late, just a super win.”
Last year’s Aurie’s Star Handicap winner So Si Bon went on to run a next-up second in the Group 1 $1 million Memsie Stakes (1400m), the Caulfield feature a potential target for Home Of The Brave this season on August 29.
So Si Bon also competed in the race attempting back-to-back wins, but could only mange to cross two lengths back fourth under the hefty 60kg topweight.
2020 Aurie’s Star Handicap Results
|1||2||HOME OF THE BRAVE (IRE)||James Cummings||Damien Oliver||7||59kg||$5|
|2||5||GREAT AGAIN||Lindsey Smith||Declan Bates||0.75L||8||57kg||$4.40F|
|3||10||GAME KEEPER||Tony & Calvin McEvoy||Damian Lane||1.15L||4||55kg||$9|
|4||1||SO SI BON||Tom Dabernig & Ben Hayes||Mark Zahra||2.15L||2||60kg||$6.50|
|5||7||YULONG JANUARY||Ciaron Maher & David Eustace||Ben Melham||2.65L||5||56kg||$10|
|6||9||HIGHTAIL||Peter & Paul Snowden||Dean Yendall||3.65L||1||55kg||$10|
|7||4||WIDGEE TURF||Patrick Payne||Billy Egan||4.05L||3||57.5kg||$5.50|
|8||8||TROPE||Julius Sandhu||Jye McNeil||10.05L||6||55.5kg||$12|
|11||THE CRUSHA||Mark C Webb||Jamie Kah||0|
|3||REYKJAVIK||Lindsey Smith||John Allen||0|
|6||SIGNORE FOX||Peter & Paul Snowden||Luke Nolen||0|
Table Credit: Racing Australia.
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