Darley’s four-year-old Lonhro gelding Mental leaves Australia for Godolphin’s Dubai and UK stables on the best possible note after winning the $1m, Group 1 Patinack Farm Classic (1200m) at Flemington on Saturday.
Kerrin McEvoy guides Mental to victory in the Patinack Farm Classic, picture quentinjlang.com
With his sire Lonhro off to stand at Darley’s USA base Mental next month sets off to showcase the talents of the sire around the world as part of a team from Peter Snowden’s stables.
Mental’s victory was completed with an excellent ride by Kerrin McEvoy who set out to stalk the favourite Sea Siren who was well backed late from $4.80 into $4.40 with Mental leaving from barrier ten and Sea Siren barrier nine.
The last time these two met in the Group 1 Manikato Stakes over 1200m at Moonee Valley on October 26th they were in barriers nine and five respectively and they finished a neck apart to the mare’s advantage.
With the better draw McEvoy was not going to let Sea Siren out of his sight as they raced down the middle of the straight sprint course.
Snitzerland and Craig Newitt led the field from the barriers racing towards the rails-side with Sea Siren and Jim Cassidy on their outside and Mental and McEvoy in behind the mare.
Buffering and Hugh Bowman had started from barrier 15 closest to the stand-side and they maintained a solo run up the straight and the rest went towards the main group in the middle.
Snitzerland was still leading with 400m to run with Cassidy biding his time on Sea Siren and McEvoy remained in position behind her.
Cassidy asked Sea Siren to move forward as they reached the 200m, but the moment they achieved the lead McEvoy pounced with Mental and immediately they had the lead.
From that point Mental was in command and the six-month plan by Snowden, ably executed by McEvoy, was satisfactorily concluded with a decisive 3/4L win.
Sea Siren (Fastnet Rock) and Cassidy were second clearly defeating the rest of the field with 3L back to Hallowbelle Belle (Starcraft) and Craig Williams.
Tiger Tees was fourth and Howmuchdoyouloveme fifth. Buffering was eighth and found to be lame in the off hind leg after the race.
The time was 1.09.04 on the Dead 4 track with the final 600m in 34.24. Mental paid $6.50 after being on $31 when markets opened some weeks ago.
Mental and McEvoy return to the winner's circle, picture sportpix.com.au
“He really bought his A-game here today so I’m very pleased with the result,” said Snowden.
“He sweated on the run the favourite and everywhere Jimmy went he was right beside him and when Jimmy started to come off the bridle at the 300m we were still going well.
“She dug deep, she did not give in and he had to work really hard to get there.
“He goes to quarantine next Thursday and he will leave out our shores on the 17th of December.
“He probably would not have to improve much more to be competitive over there. He is probably the best horse we’ve sent there and he’s going there in the best form.
“He is still on the way up which is the best thing about him; he still has not reached his peak. He is just a tougher horse now and he copes with his racing really well.”
“This preparation he has improved out of sight.
“He put the writing on the wall at Moonee Valley and there was not much between them. Straight racing really suited this bloke.
“He could possibly get a mile (1600m) but seven furlongs (1400m) is probably his best trip,” he said.
Snowden said that he thought that the Group 1 July Cup over 1200m up the stiff rise at Newmarket would suit Mental well and that possibly he will not race in Dubai but be saved for an English campaign.
“He is a great horse and it’s a pleasure to be a part of his career,” said McEvoy.
“Pete picked this race out as the earmark for the spring because he thought he would be well suited down the straight.
“He ran a credible race at Moonee Valley giving away a bit of a start.
“We were confident he could settle a bit closer in the run today and he let go when I pressed the button, he really exploded.
Kerrin McEvoy, picture sportpix.com.au
“I did not know where they would get situated during the run, whether they would go out towards Buffering or where the race was going to be generated from, so I just went out with an open plan to try to get into the clear when I needed to,” he said.
Mental is out of the Night Shift mare Intrigues and this was his seventh win from 12 starts. With two placings he has earned stakes of $1,090,060 for Darley.
Race 5, picture TVN
Group 1 Patinack Farm Classic full result