The worldwide Darley Empire rocked Ascot racecourse on Super Saturday when the well-travelled Academus hung on to score the narrowest of victories in the WA Guineas (1600m).
Ridden expertly by champion Sydney jockey Kerrin McEvoy, Academus sat third in the clear as outsiders El Rijes and Hussy By Choice set at cutthroat speed up-front.
The leaders weakened turning for home and McEvoy shot Academus clear, seemingly to an almost unassailable lead at the 150m.
However the well-travelled Academus began to paddle over the final 100m as Bippo No Bungus and Darlington Abbey began eating up the ground down the centre of the track.
In what was a desperately tight finish, Academus prevailed by a short half head to Bippo No Bungus with Darlington Abbey a close-up third.
The Lonhro gelding, who has raced previously in Queensland, New South Wales and Victoria, took his earnings to $379,000 from nine career starts.
Peter’s son and stable foreman Paul Snowden admitted to being very relieved post-race.
“He did a great job to hold after being left as a bit of a sitting duck so to speak” Snowden said.
“We were waiting for something to come and get us, but he was too good.
“We were confident pre-race, but not so much over the final stages.”
Snowden stated the stable expected a strong showing today after an ideal preparation.
“He was a picture of health and had travelled over great,” Snowden said.
The win came as a welcome change of luck for the Snowden’s after they were forced to send brilliant sprinter Mental to Darley’s overseas deportment earlier this month.
Bippo No Bungus, second to Fuddle Dee Duddle in last Saturday’s Champion Fillies Stakes, has now been runner-up at massive odds in consecutive weeks and looks due a black-type success.
Darlington Abbey, last at the home turn, ran a race-fastest final 600m in what was a sensational performance.
Champion Fillies’ victor Fuddle Dee Duddle and Karrakatta Plate winner Luke’s Luck both ran on well to finish just behind the placings, while Antique Belle had no luck once again.