Comeback galloper The Virginian could go into next month’s Group One Stradbroke Handicap without another run after his barnstorming win at Doomben.
The Virginian ($8.50) finished with a withering burst to beat Highly Geared ($25) by three quarters of a length in Saturday’s Listed Chief de Beers Handicap (1050m) at Doomben.
It was the gelding’s first run since he finished sixth in a Listed race at Flemington in October.
The Virginian was a Class 2 horse when he ran third in last year’s Stradbroke as a $101 WilliamHill chance.
Trainer Toby Edmonds wanted to run him in the spring and then come back for another tilt at the Stradbroke at Eagle Farm on June 10.
“But he had some knee problems in Melbourne and we brought him home and gave him a long spell,” Edmonds said.
The trainer is usually a laid back character but cheered The Virginian loudly from the 200m mark as his charge stormed home.
“I did get a bit excited but it has been a long road back,” Edmonds said.
“The plan was to go to the QTC Cup in a fortnight after this because I felt he may have been a run short today.
“But he might go straight into the Stradbroke fresh now; we will just have to see.”
The $64,000 first prize in the Chief de Beers lifted The Virginian’s overall earnings to near $210,000.
“But more importantly the win today should boost his ratings into the 90s,” Edmonds said.
UBET reacted immediately, shortening The Virginian from $51 to $21 for the Stradbroke.
Winning jockey Jim Byrne is keen to stick with The Virginian in the Stradbroke.
“It was a really solid win after I made sure I got cover on him,” ,” Byrne said.
“Being first up I thought he may have spat out the bit at the 200 metres but he really dug deep.”
Photo by Darren Winningham (horseracingonly.com.au)