Love Conquers All provided a bright spot in a tough week for connections when he raced away with the Group Two Shorts at Rosehill on Saturday.
An emotional Nick Moraitis, who also raced champion Might And Power, was floored by the news earlier in the week that Melbourne Cup runner-up Maluckyday was out of the spring carnival with a virus.
“I was devastated. It was like the day that I got the phone call from (trainer) Jack (Denham) that Might And Power had broken down, it felt that bad,” Moraitis said.
Both Maluckyday and Love Conquers All are prepared by Team Hawkes and co-trainer Michael Hawkes admits it has been a trying week.
Maluckyday was to have lined up in the Group One Underwood Stakes at Caulfield on Saturday.
“It’s been a tough week, a horse like him (Maluckyday) doesn’t come along every day,” Hawkes said.
“Once he missed today’s race we would have been on the back foot for a Melbourne Cup campaign so it was all over.”
Love Conquers All was runner-up in three Group One races during the autumn and winter, prompting connections to set their sights on an elusive victory at the top level this spring.
The five-year-old is still a stallion and a lucrative stud career awaits if he can break his Group One duck.
Michael Hawkes said Love Conquers All would most likely have his next start in the Group Two Premiere Stakes at Randwick on October 1, run over the 1200 metres of the Shorts.
He didn’t rule out a shot at a race like the Group One Emirates Stakes (1600m) and said Love Conquers All was still on the way up.
“This horse, I don’t think we’ve seen the best of him yet,” Hawkes said.
Love Conquers All had a bumping dual with Soul in the first half of the straight with Jim Cassidy refusing to give an inch to Kerrin McEvoy, who was trying to shoulder clear on Soul.
He didn’t get out and while McEvoy had to look for runs elsewhere, Cassidy was off and gone, scoring by a long neck over Albert The Fat with Winter King another three-quarters of a length away.
Soul finished seventh while Decision Time – the first favourite to be beaten on the program – was fifth.