Maybe Joe Pride was right after all. The Sydney trainer’s star galloper Terravista laid claims for recognition as the world’s premier speedster with victory in the $1 million Group 1 Darley Classic at Flemington.
The five-year-old, who Pride describes as the best horse he has trained, defeated Chautauqua and Lankan Rupee in the 1200-metre event that was the best gathering of sprinters in Australia this year.
Multiple Group 1-winning Irish speedster Slade Power represented Europe, but was never a factor and beat home just two rivals.
The victory backed up a tweet Pride sent out earlier in spring – when he labelled Terravista the “world’s best sprinter”, a boast he later said was sent tongue-in-cheek – but he was thrilled to see the gelding live up to the high rating he has always had of him.
“I think he’s done the talking,” Pride said. “He’s world class, there’s no doubt about that.
“I’ve known all along that this is the best horse I’ve ever trained. I’ve been bullish about him and that’s the way I play the game.
“I just loved seeing him pull it off today. He’s a world class sprinter and he’s ready to take on the world.”
The five-year-old son of Captain Rio turned in one of the great straight-track performances, courtesy of a brave Hugh Bowman ride, to get the money in front of a crowd of 70,051.
Bowman weaved a path through the middle of the field from the rear to get the $10 chance home from $2.45 favourite Chautauqua.
“I didn’t expect to be that far back, but I know the horse and I was happy to ride him wherever he was comfortable,” Bowman said of Terravista, who has now won nine of his 13 starts and $1,166,005 in stakes.
“Mid-way through the race he was just smoking. It was just a case of finding room; he didn’t need much room, took a tight gap and was too good.”
Chautauqua lost few admirers with his effort, caught in traffic probably a little longer than Dwayne Dunn wanted before finishing off hard.
Lankan Rupee ($5) raced on the pace but couldn’t hold off the two rising stars, finishing a further three quarters of a length away third, clear of defending champion Buffering ($15).
Slade Power ($10) raced in a prominently on the fence, but was beaten a long way out and jockey Wayne Lordan said he didn’t handle the firming track, which was upgraded to a Good 2 after the running of the race.
Pride said the $2.5 million T.J. Smith Stakes in April would be Terravista’s major target next campaign, but said the way he handled the straight in the Darley Classic meant he would give consideration to a run in the $1 million Newmarket Handicap (1200m) in March.
“He’s done a pretty good job today, he’s picked up a pretty decent cheque, and the Sydney autumn is his next assignment but it’s possible he’ll be back here for a race like the Newmarket,” he said.