Streets Of Avalon has capped his preparation with the biggest win of his career to date in the Group Three Victoria Handicap, bringing up a milestone for jockey Clayton Douglas.
Douglas registered his first stakes race win in Saturday’s 1400m race at Caulfield, guiding the Shane Nichols-trained gelding to a half-neck win over $2.60 favourite Manolo Blahniq with Fastnet Tempest ($12) another 1-3/4 lengths away third.
A former picnic rider, Douglas entered the professional ranks as a jumps jockey and his notable wins include last year’s Grand Annual Steeplechase at Warrnambool.
But in the last couple of years he has made the transition to also riding regularly on the flat.
“This is my first Group winner. I’ve had a couple of placings before so it’s good to get the monkey off the back,” Douglas said.
“It’s massive. I’ve been working really hard and I’ve been wanting this to happen for a while.
“I can’t thank the owners and Shane enough. I’ve worked for Shane for a long time now and for him to give me this opportunity, and for me to get the job done is a bit of a proud moment.”
Streets Of Avalon has been a model of consistency with seven top-three finishes from nine starts this campaign.
His three wins this preparation include the Listed Hareeba Stakes at Mornington and Saturday’s Group Three race, in which he started $3.90.
Nichols will see how the four-year-old comes through his Victoria Handicap win but said he would likely go for a break with Group One handicaps, the Sir Rupert Clarke Stakes and Toorak Handicap, now spring considerations.
“It’s been a terrific ride with him,” Nichols said.
“You just saddle him up, send him to the races and he just tries.”
Nichols made special mention of Douglas, who he said had ridden work for him for the past six or seven years, and gave the jockey a big hug when he returned to scale.
“It’s terrific for Clayton Douglas to win his first Group race on one of mine,” Nichols said.
“He was well-rated by Clayton today. He’s the real story.
“He’s won his first Group race. He’s been with me a long time and it’s just terrific to see a young man that I really admire, and who works really hard at the game, to win a Group race.”