De Little Engine has proven too classy for his rivals over a staying distance at Flemington to break through for his first win in 18 months.
The Danny O’Brien-trained gelding was sent out the $2.40 Ladbrokes favourite in Saturday’s Vintage Crop Handicap (2800m) and didn’t disappoint, looping around his rivals from back in the field before surging clear in the straight to score by 4-1/4 lengths.
Refectory ($15) led the chasing pack home and Lucques ($5.50) was a long head away in third.
De Little Engine’s most recent win had been over the same course and distance on the Melbourne Cup day undercard in November 2015.
In his most recent start, De Little Engine finished second behind well-performed Boom Time and beat import Hans Holbein.
O’Brien’s stable representative Matt Harrington said it was great to see De Little Engine back in the winner’s circle and a relief given he was a short-priced favourite.
“He did what he needed to do and won quite well,” Harrington said.
“He’s so honest and hasn’t run a bad race in that time (since his last win).
“He did run ninth in a Caulfield Cup, which was great for connections to have him in that race.”
Harrington said the Listed Andrew Ramsden Stakes (3200m) at Flemington was another suitable target for De Little Engine, which has won more than $600,000 in stakes from 45 starts.
“He did run third in the Andrew Ramsden last year and we’ll be coming back for another crack at that in a couple of weeks,” he said.