Tasmania’s premier jockey David Pires has made the most of a rare Melbourne visit to land his second Moonee Valley winner, 14 years after notching his first.
Pires continued his successful association with Tasmania’s premier trainer Scott Brunton and six-year-old gelding Lord Da Vinci on Saturday, guiding the sprinter to a hard-fought win in the GJK Facility Services Handicap (1200m).
Lord Da Vinci has won six of his nine starts in Tasmania since joining Brunton’s stable in early 2016 and added a win in Melbourne on Saturday in his first start since February.
Pires rarely rides in Victoria but has partnered Lord Da Vinci’s stablemate Hellova Street twice in Melbourne this season at Caulfield and said it was a thrill to win on Lord Da Vinci at Moonee Valley, having been aboard the gelding in all his Tasmanian starts.
Pires’s only previous Moonee Valley win was in April 2003.
“I’ve come here before as an apprentice and won on Bulbasaur,” 36-year-old Pires said.
“He was my first metropolitan win in Melbourne.
“I’ve been unlucky a few times but to come and win on Lord Da Vinci, a horse I’ve had such a good association with in Tasmania, is just a big thrill.”
Pires, who is poised to win the Tasmanian premiership for a third-straight season, hails from Victoria, where he began his apprenticeship, but he has spent almost his entire career based in Tasmania.
Lord Da Vinci drifted from $3.60 to $4.80 with Luxbet.com and sat outside the lead before hitting the front rounding the home turn.
He held off Camdus ($7.50) by a length, with Ruettiger another three quarters of a length away third.
“We were a bit concerned about how he travelled over here,” Pires said.
“He didn’t really settle in all that well.
“Five days ago we were ultra-confident and then the last three days we were trying to find excuses. But quality prevails and he’s just a good horse.”
Brunton, who is based at Seven Mile Beach, was full of praise for Lord Da Vinci.
“He’s a terrific galloper and I’ve got nothing but respect for the horse,” Brunton said.
“He’s got a fair few problems.
“If it’s not one thing, it’s another. You’re always trying to patch up something. He’s got issues but the beach life certainly suits him.
“It’s a great thrill.”