Les Bridge is as wily as any racehorse trainer in Sydney, yet even he had his doubts about getting a result out of Southern Legend.
After Southern Legend broke through in the Bowermans Office Furniture Plate (1100m) at Warwick Farm, the veteran horseman was the first to admit he almost gave up on the three-year-old showing his true potential before Wednesday.
Bridge has taken Southern Legend along carefully, restricting his first season of racing to two starts.
But abandoned meetings and rain-affected racetracks in the middle of summer have tested his patience almost to the point of no return.
“We had no alternative but to wait until today and it delayed his program by six weeks,” Bridge said.
“And sometimes you lose them on the way but lucky enough he’s a pretty smart horse.”
Southern Legend carried a Group One form line into the midweek race, courtesy of a close fifth to subsequent Coolmore Stud Stakes winner Japonisme as a two-year-old.
“The horse has got a lot of ability. He gets a little bit hot but as he goes along he’ll be all right.” Bridge said.
Southern Legend ($7) made the running for Tim Clark and he fended off challenges from the two favourites to beat Deploy ($2.80) by 1-3/4 lengths with Panegyria ($2.40) another three-quarters of a length away.
It was the first leg of a double for Clark after he used an inside run to win on Kembla Grange-trained Heartlings in the Schweppes Handicap (1400m).
Heartlings, specked as an $18 chance, never left the rails and chimed in at the 150m to beat Miss Denni and Taltarni.
Her winning return has convinced trainer Kerry Parker he should chase a decent autumn prize with the three-year-old filly.
“Today was going to tell us where she fits it for the carnival and I’d say she fits in all right,” Parker said.
The filly is among the entries for the ATC Australian Oaks (2400m).