Promising three-year-old Lucky Liberty has been elevated to the second line of betting for the Group One Australian Guineas after maintaining an unbeaten start to his career at Flemington.
The Henry Dwyer-trained gelding sat three and four wide in Saturday’s Flemington Rose Garden Handicap (1420m) but his class shone through as he held on to score by a head over Siegestor ($13) with 1-1/2 lengths to Best Suggestion ($9) third.
Lucky Liberty ($2.90 fav) was having his first city test after winning impressively in a Mornington maiden and a benchmark race at Sale in his previous two starts.
Dwyer said the Group Three CS Hayes Stakes at Flemington was the next step for Lucky Liberty in three weeks and the Australian Guineas (1600m) two weeks later was also on the agenda.
Lucky Liberty firmed to $9 equal second favourite alongside Sandown Guineas winner Petrology for the Australian Guineas with Caulfield Guineas winner Shooting To Win at $7.
Dwyer left the tactics to jockey Michelle Payne and the rider was content to sit wide on the gelding and trust he would be too good for his rivals, rather than going right back and give away too big a start with a head wind in the straight.
“She (Payne) sat wide but he was too good in the end anyway,” Dwyer said.
The trainer says Lucky Liberty has more natural ability than Queensland Derby winner Sonntag, who he also trains, and believes there might be an opportunity for him in the Australian Guineas with the Randwick Guineas on the same day that may rule out a number of the Sydney gallopers from the Flemington feature.
Payne has always had a big opinion of Lucky Liberty and praised Dwyer for his patience with the galloper who has had a few soundness issues early on.
“Right from the moment I rode him in his first jumpout as a two-year-old at Caulfield he showed he had that X-factor about him and he’s just never let us down along the way,” Payne said.