In The Congo fits the mould of a typical Tulloch Lodge galloper – he makes his own luck on-speed, he’s tough and he’s hard to get past.
The three-year-old was all that and more at Kembla Grange on Saturday, leading throughout and pulling out all stops in the straight to take out the Group 3 San Domenico Stakes (1100m).
The race also marked the return of Golden Slipper winner Stay Inside, who was allowed to find his feet early before looming at the top of the straight, but he didn’t quicken as expected and finished fifth.
Adrian Bott, co-trainer of In The Congo, feels sprinting is the colt’s forte and the stable plans to aim him towards the Group 1 Coolmore Stud Stakes (1200m) at Flemington during the spring carnival.
“I’ll have a chat with (managing owner) Henry Field and the connections and map out a plan,” Bott said.
“I’d like to keep him to the sprint distances. He’s just an out-and-out speed horse, I feel.
“He may stay up here for a race like the Roman Consul, with the Coolmore being the ultimate aim.”
In The Congo won on debut in May and was given a short break after finishing second to Verne at his next start.
He put the writing on the wall when a luckless second to Paulele in the Rosebud and jockey Tim Clark was keen to lead on him at Kembla and give him every chance to atone.
“Paulele probably beat him on his merits the other day, but I was disappointed he didn’t get to show his wares because he got held up badly,” Clark said.
“Today, the race set up as though he was going to get the lead, he was going to be able to make his own luck and we were going to be able to find out if he was good enough or not.”
In The Congo ($7) was under siege halfway up the straight but kept fighting to score by a neck over Paulele ($1.95 fav) with Champagne Stakes winner Captivant ($17) responsible for an encouraging return, finishing another head away third.
Stay Inside, who drifted in betting to start $3.30, was beaten just over two lengths and jockey Tommy Berry told stewards he may have struggled on the shifty track.
“He was a bit disappointing,” Berry said.
“This track is a bit shifty, he hasn’t been on that sort of ground before so maybe he just didn’t enjoy that because on what he’s shown us at home and in his trials, I thought he’d give this race a real shake.”
In The Congo gave Tulloch Lodge and Clark back-to-back three-year-old features in successive weeks after they combined with Swift Witness to claim the Silver Shadow Stakes last Saturday.