Voodoo Lad's reputation is restored with punters especially after the multiple Group 1 placegetter landed some big wagers when he ran clear to win the G3 Sir John Monash Stakes at Caulfield on Saturday.
The returning three-year-old Jukebox dominated discussions in the lead-up to the race but after he opened the $2.70 favourite, Voodoo Lad was the only horse punters wanted with a rush of money forcing his price to drop from $3.50 to start the favourite at $2.80.
Those punters had little to worry about despite Voodoo Lad dropping back to last in the field of seven as he put his head down and got into his rhythm.
Voodoo Lad and Brad Rawiller, picture Quentinjlang.com
Jockey Brad Rawiller waited for Jukebox to be flushed out for his run and he followed him and then rushed past to win by a length-and-a-half from the game bush horse Inn Keeper ($8), with a long neck margin to Jukebox, who eventually drifted to $3.50.
Voodoo Lad hadn't won since last September and was coming off two big defeats in the Goodwood in Adelaide and Stradbroke Handicap in Brisbane, but trainer Darren Weir said he felt certain the horse was about to turn his form around once he saw him in the mounting yard.
"I knew he was on because he marched into the yard," Weir explained post-race. "He was up and about. He had a bit of spring in his step. They are great signs for a horse like him being an older horse now.
"I don't think he wasn't going well at his previous two starts. Things just haven't gone the way we wanted to but everything went right today."
Weir said he had his riders to thank for the running double, with Ben Allen getting Mount Kilcoy home before Rawiller's positive handling of Voodoo Lad.
"He's not easy to ride and Brad just clicks with him," he said.
"You've got to do everything properly - get him to switch off and blend in at the right time. But when he got to the outside, you knew he was going to run well."
Rawiller also suspected a big run was on the cards as Voodoo Lad towed him around to the starting stalls.
"I was so happy with him behind the barriers, how he was in himself," he said.
"Today he was awesome, that turn of speed he had from the top of the straight.
"It was nice to see him get back on track. It can be tough sometimes when you've been to Adelaide and been to Brisbane, sometimes you can be guessing whether he's gone off.
"But today proved he back."
Linda Meech was hardly disappointed with her second placing aboard Inn Keeper, who led up in the race and managed to hold out all of his rivals except for Voodoo Lad.
"He never lets me down this horse and he was beaten by a genuine good horse here today," she said.
Craig Williams said Jukebox will improve from his performance in what was his first run for seven months.
Darren Weir, picture Quentinjlang.com
Sir John Monash Stakes, photo finish picture Racing.com