The Phillip Stokes trained Sansom (NZ) (by Charm Spirit) resumed from a lengthy spell to land a highly competitive renewal of the $160,000, Group 3, The Big Screen Company Bletchingly Stakes (1200m), the feature event at the Caulfield meeting in Melbourne.
Last seen finishing sixth of nine in the Shaftesbury Avenue Stakes over 1400m at Flemington in late February, the very well performed 4-year-old gelding began his new preparation in the best of fashion and put down a marker for a very productive late winter-early spring campaign.
Drawn second widest of all in a 12-horse field, Sansom settled just forward of midfield in the early stages before being angled wide around the home turn by rider Ben Allen.
The closing stages of the contest witnessed Sansom make steady headway down the centre of the track and then just managing to arrive in time on the winning post to defeat Streets Of Avalon (by Magnus) in a very close finish.
No fewer than eight of the contestants crossed the finishing line in a bunch, Isaurian (by Exceed And Excel) and The Astrologist (by Zoustar) dead-heating for third, marginally ahead of Viridine in 5th, Red Can Man in 6th, I Am Someone in 7th and Order Of Command in 8th.
Sansom (NZ) and Ben Allen, picture Racing Photos
Winning trainer Phillip Stokes seemed particularly pleased with the result and was full of praise for his team and his relatively new set-up in Victoria.
“Full credit to my team back at Pakenham, they’ve done a fantastic job with him,” remarked Stokes. “We’ve put a lot of time into getting him to relax this time in and obviously ‘Benny’ [Ben Allen] knows the horse super. He had to fight him for a bit, but once he got the cover, he knew he’d switch off.
“We just changed things around this prep. He did all of his pre-training at my farm — we’ve got an uphill training track there with two inclines and this is the first horse we’ve had race off it, so we’re off to a really good start.
“I thought he was vulnerable today. I played it down to my owners. I said ‘Oh, I think he’ll get beat, he’s only had the one jump-out’.
“He’s a good horse, and he’s in for a very good prep. I’d like to see him stretch out over a bit further in time. I think now that he’s got this run under his belt, if we can get him out to a mile he might be a horse that can get into a Toorak [Handicap] or something like that.”
Winning rider Ben Allen has now partnered Sansom to seven of his nine career wins and naturally spoke in glowing terms after their Bletchingly Stakes win.
“He’s been a very good horse to me,” Allen declared. “A big thanks to the Stokes camp for getting me on him. He’s starting to mature into a nice horse and I reckon he’ll stretch out over a bit of ground.
“I’ve only sat on him a handful of times [this preparation], including trialling him, but it’s been a big effort coming into this race off one trial. Phillip’s got an uphill track and he seems to have worked with out, and he finished it off well.”
Sansom races on behalf of Mr H P Sambor, Mr J Robinson, Mr R L Bradmore, Mr G J Roberts, Mrs A Stokes, Shadwell Farm Racing, Amazing Eight, League Of Gentleman & Ms E C D Macleod and has now won nine of his 21 starts for $525,120 in prizemoney.
Sansom was returned at $17.00, Streets Of Avalon at $6.50, Isaurian at $6.00 and The Astrologist at $7.00.
Official margins were a Short-Head x Half-Length.
Winning time on a Soft 6 was 1m11.76s.
Such was the competitive nature of the race, the Bletchingly Stakes should see a few future winners come out of the event. In particular, last year’s winner Viridine went very close in recording back-to-back victories and was valiant in defeat. Similarly, the evergreen sprinter Order Of Command looked to go to the line with a great more to offer behind a wall of horses and appeared the unlucky runner of the race.