Trainer Nick Harnett believes he has a handy sprinter on his hands after Wilde Gem overcame an awkward start to remain unbeaten in his metropolitan debut at Mornington.
Wilde Gem won a Pakenham synthetic track maiden by almost four lengths last month on debut before being sent out the $3.70 favourite in Monday’s Wignall Ford Handicap (1000m) at the public holiday meeting.
The gelding was the slowest out and settled back in the ruck under Noel Callow before getting home by a head over Whycatchim ($3.80) in the final strides, with a long head to Atomic Lokade third.
“It was a very good performance because nothing went right for him,” Harnett said.
“He missed the start and on the home corner I didn’t give him much hope at all.
“I’ve always thought he was pretty smart, but now he has shown it a bit I think.
“He’s been lightly raced and hasn’t been pushed at all.”
Callow believes there is upside to Wilde Gem who he said was still raw and he believes the three-year-old will be better on firmer footing than Monday’s heavy surface.
“He gave me a good feel at Pakenham but you get a better guide when they come into this level, benchmark-64 grade,” he said.
“He was good at Pakenham and again today.
“The plan was to be in the first three but he bunny-hopped at the start so I had to go to Plan B. I had to sit there and wait and lucky enough the tempo was strong enough for me to blend in.”
Local trainer David Brideoake prepared a winning double at the meeting, combining with jockey Daniel Moor for wins with two-year-old first starter Flypast and four-year-old mare Street Spun.
Apprentice Ben Allen also notched a winning double with the first coming aboard the Darren Weir-trained two-year-old filly Holy Seal who defeated older horses in the Hog’s Breath Steaks (1000m).
Having her fourth start, Holy Seal made it two wins in a row with her front-running victory.
There has been no change at the top of the Melbourne jockeys’ premiership with both leader Beau Mertens and challenger Craig Williams going winless on Monday.
Mertens leads by two.