Prominent owner Rupert Legh appears to have another promising galloper on his hands in two-year-old Airman, who has posted a rousing debut win on the Kensington track.
By I Am Invincible out of Zara Bay, a full sister to dual Group 1 winning stallion Merchant Navy, the superbly bred Airman was a $500,000 buy at the Australian Easter Yearling Sale.
Carrying Legh’s colours of navy and yellow, made famous by the likes of brilliant sprinters Chautauqua and Masked Crusader, Airman ($3.80) powered home from back in the field to win Wednesday’s Bowerman’s Handicap (1150m) by 1-1/4 lengths over Ithadtobezou (($6.50), who also found the line nicely.
Himalaism ($3 fav) appeared to have every chance, another short head away third.
Winning jockey Willie Pike said he was worried Airman had too much ground to make up when race leader Martial Music kicked strongly at the top of the straight, but such was Airman’s turn of speed Pike’s concerns were quickly put to bed.
“As soon as I got through that gap and felt him let down, I knew I was going to be very hard to beat,” Pike said.
“He’s a lovely big horse, a really nice, good type. I think it’s a bonus being able to get around a track like that and still get the job done.
“He has got a lot of upside, so fingers crossed we can all nurture him through and he can make us look good.”
Godolphin two-year-old Contemporary took a handful of starts to break his maiden but he did it in style, racing away with the TAB Handicap (1150m) in similarly impressive fashion.
The Exceed And Excel colt was James Cummings’ first juvenile runner of the season at Flemington in September and stable representative Nacim Dilmi said the victory would give the horse an important boost.
“We have always had a big opinion of the horse. He was our very first runner at the beginning of the season, James really took his time with him and today was the right race for him,” Dilmi said.
“Today’s win will give him a lot of confidence.”
The Annabel Neasham-trained What’s Going On arrived just in time to land her first win in the Ranvet Handicap (1150m), rounding out a busy afternoon for the juveniles.
Jockey Chad Schofield said the filly was travelling like a winner on the turn but when he let her off the bridle, she took a long time to wind up.
“I couldn’t have been more confident on the turn and then when I let her go, she didn’t put them away and I didn’t think I was going to win,” Schofield said.
“The last 50 metres I changed my whip to the other hand and she dug really deep.”