The Ben, Will & JD Hayes-trained Cox...
Cherry Tortoni atoned for his luckless trip to Sydney with an eye-catching last-to-first effort to take out the 2020 Moonee Valley Vase ahead of the Group 1 $2 million VRC Derby (2500m) at Flemington Saturday week.
The Patrick Payne-trained Night Of Thunder gelding was one of the spruik three-year-old heading into the spring off an undefeated two-year-old season.
He was strong placing first and second up in Melbourne before heading to Sydney for a disappointing effort to run seventh behind the brilliant filly Montefilia in the Group 1 Spring Champion Stakes (2000m).
Subsequently losing a few admirers, the punters gave Cherry Tortoni another chance back in Melbourne on Cox Plate Day as he returned to The Valley where he had previously run second to Glenfiddich in the Group 2 Stutt Stakes (1600m).
Ridden by Billy Egan in the 40th edition of the Vase, Cherry Tortoni settled towards the back and in a swooping effort made up all the ground to secure his run in the VRC Derby on the opening day of the Melbourne Cup Carnival.
The up-and-comer started favourite in the Vase after the race day scratching of Young Werther whose trainer Danny O’Brien has opted to keep fresh for the Derby.
The top elect was second last in the early stages ahead of Johnny Get Angry who missed the kick by two lengths and trailed the field led around by Captain Corelli.
With no pressure up front, there was zero speed in the Vase and Cherry Tortoni was able to move up into fourth the outside by the turn.
At the 350m he had come from last to hit the lead with Matt Cumani’s last-start Super Impose Stakes winning Turffontein colt Khoekhoe up into second presenting as the danger.
For a few strides it looked as though Khoekhoe was going to wear Cherry Tortoni down, but the later boxed on and held for a half-neck win as Johnny Get Angry also came from the back to finish a notable gap back in third.
“Once we got down the side I gave him breathing room and let him build his momentum,” winning hoop Eagan said.
“From there he was able to swoop over the top of them.
“Every time he’s just got there off his ability without actually knowing what he’s doing.
“He’s got a lot of learning to do.
“Obviously, his natural ability is really nice.”
Efficient (2006) was the last horse to do the Moonee Valley Vase – VRC Derby double and the markets on Cherry Tortoni, prepared by Payne who won the Cox Plate on Northerly on this day back in 2002, to be the next are firming.
All-in 2020 Victoria Derby odds online at Ladbrokes.com.au on Cherry Tortoni have come in from $13 into $6 sitting second only to Young Werther ($5) who has retained favouritism and are available in full here.
2020 Moonee Valley Vase Results
|Fred W Kersley
|JOHNNY GET ANGRY (NZ)
|Lachlan King (a)
|CAPTAIN CORELLI (NZ)
|Mick Price & Michael Kent (Jnr)
|Ciaron Maher & David Eustace
|RELIABLE LOVIN’ (NZ)
|YOUNG WERTHER (NZ)
Table Credit: Racing Australia.
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