Class prevailed with Classique Legend putting away the field in the $150,000, listed Bob Charley AO Stakes (1100m) at Randwick on Saturday with the Les Bridge trained flashy grey under Kerrin McEvoy showing he will be force to be reckoned with in the spring.
Remarkably Classique Legend drifted in the betting after opening on Saturday with TAB at $2.50 to start at $3.20. Not once did those that scooped up the expanded odds regret the decision as McEvoy smoothly guided Classique Legend through his paces.
Crossing the High Street side Jungle Edge (60kg) and Nash Rawiller led out from barrier four and set a smart tempo to the corner. Classique Legend was sixth on the outside some 7L from the leader at the 600m from barrier 11 and from that position McEvoy was primed to launch.
From the 500m McEvoy sent Classique Legend of a run that had them on the outside of the track, literally with the rail out 9m from the True. Jungle Edge folded after the 400m and Snitz (56kg) and Tim Clark were right there to take over after following the leader across the top.
Classique Legend came alongside on the outside and with 200m to travel he was in front. Snitz kept fighting and McEvoy waited and then asked Classique Legend to step up a gear and the response with clear and immediate.
Southern Lad (Ocean Park ) (53kg) and Rachel King came well on the very outside, but Classique Legend with his top-weight was clear with the margin a 1/2L at the line. Snitz (Snitzel) and Clark were third, the margin a short neck with Viridine fourth, the margin 1 1/2L. Jungle Edge was fifth 2L away.
The time was 1.05.81 on the Soft 7 track with the final 600m in 36.10. Classique Legend paid $3.40 on the tote.
Classique Legend and Kerrin McEvoy, picture Sportpix.com.au
“It is good to still have him here on our shores obviously with a bit of time off,” said McEvoy.
“I was a little bit nervous coming into today. I walked the track yesterday and spoke with Les. I must admit that I thought it was actually going to ride a little bit dryer than what it is. I was a bit worried when I got here today and they were getting their toe into it.
“But the horse has done a good job and he handled the track well enough. I am sure he will be better again once he gets on firmer surfaces, so he has put forward a nice showing here today.
“It is good to have him back and ticking over rather than having 12 months off. He went out like a boy and came back as a man. Let’s hope he can show us that later in the spring,” he said.
“He has come to the races and won and he is not fit yet, so we are just delighted,” said Carmel Size.
Size suggested that Classique Legend might not race again until the early spring.
“The plan was to run him here and then keep him ticking over in the stable,” she said.
Classique Legend, out of the Encosta de Lago mare Pinocchio, races in the white with red epaulettes and arm bands silks of Hong Kong based Boniface Ho, the owner of a 2020 slot for the $15m, The Everest (1200m) at Randwick on October 17th.
The four-year-old Not A Single Doubt gelding was meant to be racing for Ho in Hong Kong, but for the moment at least he remains racing in Australia after delays meant he did not leave for Sha Tin.
Last year Classique Legend was sixth in The Everest, this year should Ho decide to line him up again, he will do so as a tougher, more mature and experienced sprinter.
Saturday’s win was Classique Legend’s fourth from just nine starts. That his break from racing since November has benefited him was evident in the strong and professional performance of the win. Stakes earnings are now $1,503,500.
Classique Legend, picture Sportpix.com.au
Bob Charley AO Stakes, photo finish picture ATC