Tony Nicconi has snapped a lengthy absence from the winners’ circle with a determined first-up victory at Caulfield.
Resuming from a spell in Saturday’s Glenn Wilkins Handicap (1100m) at the scene of his most recent win in the Group Three Vain Stakes in August, 2018, Tony Nicconi got home in a tight finish to the benchmark-84 race.
Damien Oliver, who was riding Tony Nicconi for the first time, elected not to drive the gelding to the lead after being slightly slow away and instead was able to get a nice trial just off the pace before making his challenge in the straight.
Tony Nicconi ($4.40) defeated the closing Vainstream by a head with Causeway Girl another short half-head away third.
Tony Nicconi won his first two starts, both at Caulfield, but had gone winless in his past seven appearances.
“It was just nice to see him really fight out a finish and win like that,” co-trainer Ben Hayes said.
“The plan was actually to lead but when he jumped that little bit slow I thought Ollie did a great job to go to plan B.
“He got in a good spot and it’s just so nice to see the horse be really strong through the line and get a win under his belt.”
Tony Nicconi is now in his second preparation since being gelded and Hayes believes the sprinter’s manners have improved, evidenced by the way he was able to settle just off the pace on Saturday.
“He’ll just go through the grades and we’ll probably place him here at Caulfield and try to space his runs and keep him happy,” he said.