The Ben, Will & JD Hayes-trained Cox...
Grand old campaigner Humidor has turned his form around as an eight-year-old winning fresh for the first time in his career in the Group 2 Feehan Stakes to secure the golden ticket into the 2020 Ladbrokes Cox Plate for genius trainer Chris Waller.
The evergreen son of Teofilo, originally prepared across the Tasman by Johno Benner, debuted for his fifth career trainer Waller in the Group 2 $250,000 Ladbrokes Feehan Stakes (1600m) and couldn’t have done more to show the team he was still keen to race.
“We wanted to see him come here and just run well and show us he wanted to be here, even if it wasn’t a winning performance,” stable rep Jo Taylor said post-win.
“What he showed us today certainly showed us he was back on track.”
Back in 2017 Humidor was the arch rival to Waller’s superstar mare Winx giving her the fright of her life when finishing a devastatingly close second in the Group 1 Cox Plate (2040m).
“With him getting so close to a very special mare of ours and knowing he hasn’t quite hit form since then, it was just a really rewarding win today,” Taylor added.
Winx set a record time of 2:02.92 for her third Cox Plate success that year before famously returning for an unprecedented fourth win in the Australasian championship in 2018.
Humidor meanwhile was in the Cox Plate trifecta again that season running third before changing stables from Darren Weir to Ciaron Maher & David Eustace.
Over the past two years the horse has spent time with Maher & Eustace in Melbourne as well as Lindsey Smith in Perth, but had failed to finish again until his shock win in the Feehan.
Last seen crossing fifth in the Group 3 Strickland Stakes (2000m) at Belmont back in late June, Humidor went around an $18 shot in the Ladbrokes Feehan Stakes ridden by last year’s Cox Plate winning hoop Damian Lane.
Lane gave the galloper a brilliant ride, patient back on the rail before getting the split he needed late.
“I’ve watched him in a lot of trackwork the last few weeks and he looked in great condition,” Lane said.
“I was very fortunate to pick up the ride.
“He gave me a great ride here today…he did a great job, obviously.
“You’d never put anything past him. He’s a little superstar and on his day he’s as good as any horse.
“The team’s done a massive job to get him here in the order they did.
“It’s not often you see an eight-year-old turn their form around.”
It was the well-supported Sircconi on the quick back-up that eventually crossed to lead the field around from Streets Of Avalon on his outside, while Harbour Views was up in third with an on-speed run.
The returning Surprise Baby meanwhile was settled second last kicking off his second Melbourne Cup campaign as the race favourite.
Sircconi was just in front approaching the turn with 450m to go, but the runs were coming from the back.
Surprise Baby came five-deep around the bend to challenge right round the outside, while Humidor was last of all looking to be in an unwinnable position.
It was a line across over the final furlong, but Lane got the split on Humidor up the middle and saluted in a fairy tale return to defeat the brave Paul Preusker-trained Surprise Baby ($3.30) by a quarter-length.
Just off them was Harbour Views ($5.50) who was ridden hard up the rails into third, while Sircconi held for third and Streets Of Avalon finished fifth under a length off the winner.
The Feehan Stakes result again solidified the genius of Chris Waller and his team to have the Humidor of old back and in contention for the Group 1 $5 million Ladbrokes Cox Plate (2040m) back at the track on October 24.
“He’s a horse that’s got so much character,” Taylor said.
“He certainly gets spoilt around the stable. He’s a part of the family and let’s hope we can take him all the way.
“I’m sure that (the Cox Plate) will be on the cards. It would be a grand final.
“We’ll sit back, see how he pulls up. But certainly, it’s hard to bypass this one isn’t it.”
Humidor was a $201 outsider in all-in Cox Plate 2020 betting at race sponsor Ladbrokes.com.au before the Feehan and has subsequently firmed into $21.
Click here for the full futures Cox Plate odds.
2020 Ladbrokes Feehan Stakes Results
|SURPRISE BABY (NZ)
|HARBOUR VIEWS (FR)
|STREETS OF AVALON
|Grant & Alana Williams
Table Credit: Racing Australia.
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