Former Northern Territory galloper wins Group 1 sprint

A horse sent from the Northern Territory to win a provincial cup in South Australia has taken out Adelaide’s feature Group 1 sprint. Savatoxl, a former runner-up in the Darwin Cup (2000m), has shown his sprinting prowess to claim The Goodwood (1200m) at Morphettville on Saturday. 

After starting his career with Will Savage in Alice Springs before a stint in Darwin with Gary Clarke, Savatoxl was transferred to Tony and Calvin McEvoy last year with a view to winning the Balaklava Cup. But McEvoy senior said the son of Kuroshio failed to run the 1600m trip at that level and the decision was made to keep Savatoxl to sprinting. 

It proved an inspired move as under the urgings of Barend Vorster, Savatoxl ($19) raced to a two-length win from Instant Celebrity ($5.50), with the $2.70 favourite Gytrash a long-neck away third. 

“It’s a bit surreal,” Tony McEvoy said. “The ownership group had enough faith in him to send him down. He’d won a Guineas in Darwin, he’d run a placing in the Darwin Cup, but in the Balaklava Cup he just didn’t run the mile at this level. I asked if he could go back sprinting and they agreed. 

“He didn’t have the pace today after he began beautifully, but Barend was beautiful and showed all of his experience, and allowed him to get into his nice rhythm and not panic. It was lovely to see him dart through.” 

For South African Vorster it was his second Group 1 win after settling in Australia after a long stint in Singapore. He won the 2019 Newmarket Handicap on Sunlight soon after relocating, but said Saturday’s win was extra special in his home town. 

“To get one at home in South Australia, it is special. And when it’s not with an odds-on favourite, it’s even better,” Vorster said. 

“He’s not very tall but he’s very strong in himself. He’s got a good, strong girth and quickens up really well. 

“I was pleased today that they kept going wide and they never used the inside, so it worked out for us.”