Ninth Legion Rises To Villiers Victory

Improving four-year-old Ninth Legion (Fastnet Rock x Xaar’s Jewel) rose to the occasion in Sydney on Saturday claiming a breakthrough victory in the Gr.2 ATC Villiers Stakes over 1550m.

The Segenhoe Thoroughbreds owned galloper was forced to work at both ends of the weekend’s feature race in Australia, but he was not to be outgunned. Ninth Legion held a length margin on the line over Limes with Alma’s Fury back in third in the 14 runner capacity field.

An $110,000 purchase from the draft of Edinglassie Stud at the 2011 Inglis Australian Easter Yearling Sale, Ninth Legion has turned his career around since being gelded at the start of the season.

”He is still a work in progress but all credit goes to Segenhoe for agreeing to geld him,” Michael Hawkes said.

”The Villiers has been the plan this preparation and it has worked out well. It was a good tough win.”

Ninth Legion joins Shamus Award, Atlante and Samaready as recent feature race winners purchased from the middle market of the Easter Yearling Sale. The first class quality in the $100,000 to $300,000 range has become a great hallmark of the prestigious auction.

Bred by Davilora Lodge, Ninth Legion is the 53rd stakes-winner for Fastnet Rock. The Champion sire has nine yearlings in the 2014 Inglis Melbourne Premier Yearling Sale and 62 yearlings set to be offered at the Inglis Australian Easter Yearling Sale next April.

Thanks to his Villiers win Ninth Legion is now exempt from the ballot for the $3 million Group 1 ATC Doncaster Mile. Jockey Peter Robl believes Ninth Legion can make the step.

“If he continues to progress like he has this preparation, then he would be a genuine lightweight chance in the Doncaster,” Robl said.

The Doncaster is due to be run at Randwick on Day One of ‘The Championships’, only days after the Easter Yearling Sale on 8, 9 & 10 April 2014.

No fairytale farewell for Linton

Linton’s final run in Australian hands didn’t go to plan with the grey finishing among the tail in the Hong Kong Mile.

The John Sadler-trained gelding beat home just one runner in the 14-horse field at his last start before heading to Dubai to continue his career with Marco Botti.

Malua Racing’s Troy Corstens was disappointed to see the seven-year-old fail to figure in the event won by Glorious Days, but said trouble acclimatising after losing 15kg on the flight across may have caught up with the son of Galileo on raceday.

“It was disappointing to come halfway round the world and run like that,” Corstens said. “I would have expected him to run a bit better. He was well and truly below his best.

“The trip across and maybe losing that bit of weight hasn’t helped him.

“I would have liked him to leave us on a better note but that’s racing. Hopefully he can go up to Dubai and do better.”

Damien Oliver said that despite a slow beginning, Linton enjoyed a good run and saved ground rounding the home turn but the acceleration that carried him to a stunning win in the Group 1 Stradbroke Handicap in June was absent.

“He had a nice run but when I asked him to go coming to the turn he lacked his strong kick that he can have. He had his chance but wasn’t at his best today,” Oliver said.

Linton heads to Dubai a winner of seven of his 27 starts – four of them since joining Malua Racing early last year – having started his career with Lloyd Williams’ Macedon Lodge operation.

While the Hong Kong Mile provided no joy for the Australian-trained runner, there was an Australian connection to the winner with Glorious Day winning for John Size.

The former Sydney horseman, who has been a star of Hong Kong training for more than a decade, celebrated his first victory in one of international features when Douglas Whyte partnered him to victory.

Champion French mare Moonlight Cloud, the shortest-priced favourite across the four Group 1 international features, didn’t enjoy the best of runs and never threatened as a winning chance, finishing sixth.

Story by Greg Miles and Brad Bishop


Dominant could target Cups

After defeating the likes of Red Cadeaux, Dunaden and Mount Athos in yesterday’s Group 1 Longines Hong Kong Vase (2400m), Hong Kong trainer John Moore wants to aim Dominant towards the 2014 Spring Racing Carnival.

Speaking to RSN’s Shane Anderson, Moore said he would talk to Dominant’s owners about sending the five-year-old to Team Hawkes to be prepared for both the BMW Caulfield Cup (2400m) and Emirates Melbourne Cup (3200m).

“I’ll then sit down with the syndicate and ask them if they’ll give me permission to send him over to John Hawkes in Australia,” Moore said.

“It would be probably four months before the big Cup races to make sure he has got the time to acclimatise and hopefully he can repeat what he did here.”

Moore said the initial target for the son of Cacique was the Group 1 Sheema Classic (2400m) at the Dubai World Cup meeting in March, before heading back to Hong Kong for the Group 1 Hong Kong Champions and Chater Cup (2400m) in May.

Given a gun ride by Australian jockey Zac Purton, Dominant defied his $24 starting price with TAB to defeat the $2.70 favourite The Fugue, with 2011 winner Dunaden running home strongly into third position.

The luckless runner in the race was last year’s winner and two-time Melbourne Cup runner-up Red Cadeaux who still finished fourth after racing wide throughout the race.

Moore admitted it was surprise to win the Vase, saying it was always hard to beat the seasoned European stayers with a scarcity of suitable lead up options in Hong Kong.

“We drew barrier 14 and I didn’t think he had the mileage in his legs,” he said.

“Zac (Purton) gave him a great ride, there was a little bit of interference in the race and we got lucky.

“The 2400m race (Hong Kong Vase) is really put on for the Europeans. I bought Dominant to win that race as well as come back to Melbourne.

“To get away with the race today when I went into it not that confident, I’m in Disneyland.”

The Hong Kong Vase was the first leg of a double on the International Race Day program for Moore who also took out the 1600m Class 2 Handicap with exciting four-year-old Able Friend.

Zoustar to stand in Victoria

Dual Group 1-winning three-year-old Zoustar will alternate stud duties between Victoria and New South Wales at the end of his racing career.

In a boost for the Victorian breeding industry, Fairfax Media has revealed the son of Northern Meteor will stand at Victorian farm Woodside Park Stud alternating each season with New South Wales breeding operation Widden Stud.

Zoustar will add to Woodside Park Stud’s burgeoning stallion roster which also includes 2010/11 Champion First Season Sire of Australia Written Tycoon, as well as Elzaam and Grey Swallow.

Thoroughbred Breeders Victoria (TBV) President James O’Brien said the impending addition of Zoustar to the Victorian stallion ranks would assist the continued development and improvement of the Victorian breeding industry.

“Attracting good quality stallions to Victoria is a constant aim and obviously Zoustar is doing everything on the track to suggest he can make it as a top line sire,” O’Brien said.

“Woodside Park Stud’s investment in securing Zoustar is indicative of their commitment to the Victorian breeding industries and it’s a big step going forward.”

After winning the Group 1 Golden Rose (1400m) in Sydney in September, Zoustar doubled his Group 1 haul when he displayed a scintillating turn of speed to win the Coolmore Stud Stakes (1200m) at Flemington on Derby Day.

Trainer Chris Waller has signalled interest in travelling Zoustar to the UK in June to compete at Royal Ascot which could potentially enhance his prospects of becoming a dual-hemisphere stallion.