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Image: Bruno Cannatelli

Liam Howley and Fred W Kersley combined for an early Mornington Cup Day blowout with Virtuous Circle upsetting some more fancied rivals in the Mornington Sires.

The son of Almanzor, the outsider of the field at $61, edged out well-supported $2.20 favourite Do It La by a short-half-head in the $130,000 event over 1500 metres.

The result completed a stellar race for Howley who bought both the winner and third placegetter Highland Harley ($31) on last year’s yearling sale circuit.

“We went to market to buy the horses we wanted, that was the motto going in early and we’ve had some great support from some great clients,” Howley said.

“That first-up run (by Virtuous Circle) was super. He did exactly what we wanted him to do and he’s come on since. While we weren’t confident, we knew he’d run well today. Both (horses) ran super.”

Virtuous Circle was a $360,000 at last year’s Inglis Classic Sale, while Highland Harley cost $100,000 at Inglis Premier.

The Mornington Sires was just the second career start for Virtuous Circle, who finished second last in a Pakenham 2YO Maiden on debut, and Kersley said he benefitted greatly from that outing and there was plenty of merit in the victory.

“Last time out at Pakenham he didn’t have a clue what it was about,” Kersley said.

“Today we were forced to go back from the draw. Throughout the run, the tempo was a little stop-start and it made it very difficult for us to find a rhythm.

“Even though we had the rail, it was tight going for a horse having its second race start.”

Disappointment of the race was Yaki Ishi, the race-morning favourite who drifted slightly to start $2.35 second elect, but could manage only fifth placing, almost four lengths from the winner.

 
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