Former West Australian galloper Great Again has relished the wet conditions at Flemington to record a fighting first-up victory.
Trained by Lindsey Smith, Great Again added a third stakes win to his record with success in Saturday’s Listed Straight Six (1200m).
Great Again arrived in Victoria last year and had one start at the end of the spring carnival, finishing rearwards in a 1200m sprint at Ballarat in November.
Returning from a break, Smith was planning a first-up assault on his Victorian hometown’s feature sprint, the Wangoom Handicap at Warrnambool, earlier this month, but considered the track not wet enough.
Revelling in heavy ground under Declan Bates, Great Again ($12) scored a short-head victory from Rich Charm ($31) with Home Of The Brave ($11) a long neck away third.
Great Again arrived in Victoria with strong credentials winning nine of his 20 starts, six of those on soft ground.
Stable representative Shane Jackson said the victory showed the genius of Smith in electing to bypass the Wangoom.
“He said from day one that this fella grows a leg on the heavy ground and he proved that today,” Jackson said.
“That was brilliant and a tough win.
“He’s a beautiful horse. He used that big stride late and was really tough when they were coming back at him.
“It’s a thrill to get him back to what Lindsey said about him as he’s always had a huge opinion of him.”
Jackson said the stable was not concerned about Great Again having his first run on the Flemington straight.
He said Great Again showed he was adaptable having now added a straight track victory to his record.
“A horse gets so used to racing and training around a bend,” Jackson said.
“So to do that down the straight where they can get lost a bit, it’s good to get that ticked off.”
Udyta Clarke, trainer of the runner-up Rich Charm, was over the moon with the gelding’s return to form.
Rich Charm was having his second run in 15 months after returning at Mornington in the Hareeba Stakes in March.
Another former West Australian galloper Reykjavik gave Smith a Flemington double with a comfortable victory in the Apache Cat Handicap.
Reykjavik was perfectly handled by apprentice Lewis German, coming down the centre of the track to run past the favourite Shot Of Irish with German import, Django Freeman, making his Australian debut, holding down third place.