Vatuvei served a reminder of his love for staying races when he turned in a powerful display to claim today’s $250,000 Drake International Cup at Moonee Valley.
The Peter Moody-trained four-year-old relished the step up to 2500 metres and a strong tempo in the Group 2 event.
It was his first win since the 2800m VRC St Leger on Anzac Day and his first start in a race beyond 2025m since his Group 1 Queensland Derby fifth placing in May.
Sadly for connections of the gelding who was 44th in the Emirates Melbourne Cup Order of Entry, the victory is unlikely to be enough to earn Vatuvei a penalty big enough to get him into the Flemington feature, but winning jockey Luke Nolen said that could be a blessing.
“It might be a blessing because it will be great to see him with another season under his belt before he tackles the better stayers,” Moody’s stable jockey said.
“He sticks, so I think he is a stayer with nice quality but I’m thinking 12 months’ time he will be a lot better.”
Racing Victoria chief handicapper Greg Carpenter will announce the extent to Vatuvei’s penalty at 9.30am on Monday.
The son of Reset, who was having his fourth run back from a spell, settled in the second half of the field in the Drake International Cup, but that group was suited with Rialya running the field along at a solid tempo and Midas Touch stuck wide for most of the race.
The leaders started to struggle well before the turn and while Precedence and Reuben Percival loomed ominously before the turn, Nolen’s patience allowed Vatuvei to sweep home over the top.
The $13 chance scored by 1-1/2 lengths from Reuben Percival ($9.50) with Ironstein ($5), who had trouble obtaining a clear run along the rail rounding the home bend, two lengths away third. Midas Touch was beaten at the 500m and beat home only one runner, Rialya.
Story by Brad Bishop