Beach life is agreeing with De Little Engine after he notched successive staying race victories at Flemington.
After winning over 2800m a fortnight ago, De Little Engine added the Listed Andrew Ramsden Stakes (3200m) to his record on Saturday.
Ridden by Daniel Moor, De Little Engine was sent out the $3.20 CrownBet favourite before scoring a 4-1/4 length win from Mujadale ($8), with Like A Carousel ($21) 1-3/4 lengths away third.
Trainer Danny O’Brien said De Little Engine and stablemate Second Bullet have thrived in training at his Barwon Heads property, away from the hustle and bustle of city life.
De Little Engine made his return to the Flemington stable on Thursday afternoon.
“We’ve changed things up this campaign,” O’Brien said.
“He’s been doing a lot more beach work which seems to suit the older horses.
“He and Second Bullet have spent the whole autumn down there.
“They’ve always been good horses but they’ve found a length or two this autumn.”
O’Brien said Saturday’s race, run over the same course and distance as the Melbourne Cup, looked De Little Engine’s race despite the gelding having to carry 58.5kg.
“It’s never as easy as it looks but to be fair in the run it looked pretty painless,” O’Brien said.
Providing De Little Engine comes through Saturday’s race unscathed, he may head to Sydney for the Stayer’s Cup (3200m) at Randwick on June 10.
“This is probably his standard,” O’Brien said.
“We ran him through the spring but it just keeps getting tougher and tougher for the local horses.”
Moor said he was conscious of De Little Engine’s weight and wanted to give him as easy a path as possible.
He was able to give the six-year-old a soft run until the 800m where he started to improve.
“The most exciting part was when I came out,” Moor said.
“I then had to wait a while to make my run.
“He’s a tough little horse and it’s a credit to the stable as he’s been up for so long.
“He deserved the win today.”