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Last years The BMW winner Littorio was unwanted in the betting but finished too well to win today’s Group 2 Makybe Diva Stakes at Flemington racecourse ahead of the well backed Glass Harmonium and outsider Midas Touch.

Nigel Blackiston says Littorio could make a Cox Plate horse after he came back from an injury-enforced layoff to win the Group Two Makybe Diva Stakes at Flemington.

The Bellotto seven-year-old, a dual Group One winner of the 2008 Turnbull Stakes (2000m) at Flemington and 2010 The BMW (2400m) at Rosehill, hadn’t raced since finishing ninth in last year’s Sydney Cup over 16 months ago.

Blackiston said the gelding had since undergone stem cell treatment to his suspensory ligaments and had surgery to remove a bone chip from his near-side fetlock.

“What a return,” Blackiston said.

Ridden by Craig Williams, Littorio ($41) came from last to score by a half-length from the Mike Moroney-trained import Glass Harmonium ($5) with the Lloyd Williams-owned import Midas Touch ($81) a short half-head away third.

“The most important thing is to see how he pulls up tomorrow. Obviously everyone knows he’s had problems but if he’s clean in the legs we’ll push on and I think he could make a Cox Plate horse,” Blackiston said.

The Flemington trainer said he was pleased for the family of Mark Barrett who bred the horse but died of cancer.

“He had a long battle and I’m pleased that his wife and family are here to enjoy this moment,” he said.

Blackiston praised his staff and vet for getting Littorio back to health and fitness.

“A lot of hard work has gone into the horse,” he said.

“To return as he did today is unbelievable.

“No-one gave him a chance but his previous form was as good as any horse in the field.

“You see him in the mounting yard and he looks magnificent.

“His trial a couple of weeks ago was the best he’d ever trialled. He ran second to a pretty quick horse and was really keen and maybe pushed out he could have won the trial but I knew he was back and going well.”

Williams, who also won The BMW on Littorio, was also rapt with the win.

“It’s the big race of the day today, this is very special,” he said.

“For me I was able to sit on this horse about three weeks ago in a barrier trial and honestly he trialled like a sprinter he had so much zest about him.

“And when he walked into the yard today he looked fantastic and even on the way to the barrier he had that feel about him and he did a great job, they went slow early and quickened up from the 1000 metres.

“He’s a big horse and when he came out and got chasing out in the middle of the track maybe the wind helped him. He was impressive in the end.”

West Australian four-year-old Playing God made ground to run fourth but the Peter Moody-trained Lights Of Heaven ($1.85 fav) disappointed her supporters when finishing fifth after settling eighth and the club vet could find no abnormality when the mare was inspected after the event.


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