If the precedent set twelve months ago is any indication, Dandino could have some exciting times in store for his Australian Thoroughbred Bloodstock (ATB) syndicate of owners after winning the Listed American St Leger (2700m) at Arlington Park, near Chicago, USA.
Dandino made it a double for Italian-born, UK-based trainer Marco Botti and ATB in the St Leger after Jakkalberry won the 2012 edition before running a luckless 13th in the BMW Caulfield Cup and rattling home for third in the Emirates Melbourne Cup behind Green Moon at $81.
Ridden by Ryan Moore, Dandino started favourite at $1.60 local and had to earn the victory with everything not quite going their way in the run.
“He traveled over from England really well so before the race we were really confident that he would run well and when then second favourite (Dark Cove) was scratched we knew we would be a short priced favourite”, said Darren Dance, ATB managing director, of the Leger lead-up.
“He jumped well and settled nicely but we were back on the fence amongst the pack and I was a little concerned whether he could get out and pick them up.
“On the corner Ryan said that he copped some interference which cost Dandino two or three lengths plus they weren’t too keen to let him out to get the clear run but once the gap opened he really quickened will and hit the line strongly.”
Moore noted post-race that the horse felt like he had a lot more to give which pleased Dance before embarking on a Melbourne mission.
Winner of the 2011 Group 2 Jockey Club Stakes and 2012 Group 3 September Stakes, both at 2400-metres in England, TAB rates Dandino a $17 chance for the Caulfield Cup and $26 for the Melbourne Cup.
“Before this race I thought that he is probably a better Caulfield Cup chance than a Melbourne Cup chance as his form over 2400-metres has been really good but after running out the 2700-metre trip here, he may just be a better two-mile prospect now that we thought”, Dance noted and attributed much of the change to Botti’s training polish.
“We think he can be really competitive in both races.”
Dandino will now head back to England to prepare for the quarantine period before arriving in Melbourne with the first group of European raiders on Grand Final Day (28 September).
One of the positives of Jakkalberry’s performances last Spring was that a number of the owners involved were new to horse ownership and that trend has continued with Dandino.
Dance hopes Dandino will deliver further on the promising start to his campaign .
“They’ll all get a photo of the win on the wall and so many more owners new to the experience are getting a great thrill.”
Story by Danny Matthews