While the Magic Millions shines brightest on the Gold Coast, it was a sales graduate that hit the board first in Melbourne, Lofty Strike taking out the first event at Flemington.
A $280,000 purchase in 2021, the son of Snitzel is the second foal out of 2013 Golden Slipper winner Overreach. The regally bred colt had won his most recent jump-out leading into his debut assignment and showed plenty of class to win the Resimax Group Rapid Racing, Friday 21 January (1100m) down the Flemington straight.
It’s the right time to be a winning two-year-old with the Blue Diamond just around the corner, but the colt’s trainer Julius Sandhu will take it easy on the son of Snitzel.
“It’s just good to see him come to the track and actually [do it],” he said. “I was a bit concerned first time coming to the Flemington straight — it’s not easy for most horses, but he’s really professional … He’s got a nice turn of foot and to see him do it on race day on a big stage is obviously very pleasing.
“Obviously I don’t know [if he’s Blue Diamond quality] but he’s in it and we’ve paid up. He’ll go to one of the qualifiers and has to do all the right things there, the old cliche, but we’ll take it one race at a time.
“He’s only a two-year-old and he’s a big horse. We have to make sure he pulls up good and go from there.”
Lofty Strike and Jamie Mott, picture Quentinjlang.com
The two-year-old jumped well from the inside barrier and was running on the pace in the early stages, before gaining cover with about 500m left to run. He came under pressure with 400m to run, and appeared somewhat lost when Jamie Mott began pushing him along.
Lofty Strike knuckled down well though over the final 200m, coming off heels and driving to the line powerfully to win by three-quarters of a length under Jamie Mott.
Mott was pleased with the debut effort, saying the two-year-old will come back better at three.
“I watched his jump outs and he looked quite professional. Obviously coming up the straight the first time you never know how they’ll handle it, but when I came out to the mounting yard and saw him for the first time, I was pretty happy. He’s a beautiful, big horse,” he said.
“He went down to the barriers nicely. He was a bit new once I got out, but I think he’s got a lot more to give still. I think he definitely will [get more ground], he’ll be better after this preparation.
“He’s done everything right so far; he feels like he’ll be able to absorb a high tempo 1200 [metres], so it wouldn’t be a bad thing to throw in a nomination [to the Blue Diamond]. He hasn’t put a foot wrong yet, so if he keeps progressing that way then who knows?”
Lofty Strike ($13.00) beat home odds-on favourite English Riviera ($1.90 fav), with the Maher and Eustace-trained Jamarra ($6.50) back in third place.