A newcomer to senior riding ranks, jockey Zac Spain has landed his biggest victory guiding Streets Of Avalon to a first-up win in the $200,000 Group 2 Australia Stakes (1200m) at The Valley on Friday night.
Spain’s previous biggest win was aboard Humma Humma in the Group 3 Proud Miss Stakes at Morphettville last May on top of three Listed race successes.
One of those Listed race wins was aboard Streets Of Avalon in the Hareeba Stakes (1200m) at Mornington in 2019.
Settling outside the speed set by Tavisan, Spain allowed Streets Of Avalon to range up to the leader before the hometurn, taking over early in the short straight to land a comprehensive victory.
The only Group 1 winner in Friday night’s field, Streets Of Avalon ($4.80) led home the $1.75 favourite Viridine by 1-¾ lengths with Tavisan ($5) a short-neck away third.
Spain was thrilled that trainer Shane Nichols and the ownership group had stuck with him after the gelding had a disappointing spring campaign.
“Racing is all about opportunities and when you get them you have to grab them with both hands,” Spain said.
“Credit has to go Shane and the whole ownership group.
“They’ve been extremely loyal to me and to get back on him and to get back on him at the start of his prep, there probably were people who had doubts with him from his spring campaign, but he’s come back in terrific order and he’s loves it around The Valley.”
Streets Of Avalon and Zac Spain, picture Racing Photos
Friday night’s victory was Street Of Avalon’s first in eight first-up attempts.
Nichols said Streets Of Avalon has endured a number of soft tissue problems and the trainer noted the work of his staff in getting the gelding to the races.
“He’s a six-year-old, he’s had 53 goes,” Nichols said.
“He was a bit stiff and not as fluent as what he has been, but when the adrenalin kicks in he can really find the line.
“A lot of credit has to go to the team, not just the staff, the vet the farrier, all of them.
“Without them looking after him, I take the accolades, but to have a horse like him that’s had 53 runs, last prep we didn’t win, to win a Group 2 first-up today, it’s a real soft place (spot) for me that one.”
Streets Of Avalon won the Futurity Stakes (1400m) at Caulfield last autumn and Nichols is planning back-to-back wins in the Group 1 contest on February 20.
And Nichols said he had never lost faith in the gelding despite a winless spring.
“I don’t think we’ll run before that but we’ll nurse him through to the Futurity and have another crack,” Nichols said.
“The Feehan here was very good and we ran in the Cantala when we probably shouldn't have.
“He got to the end of the prep and at Sandown he’d had enough. The remarkable thing about today is that he only really had about three weeks off and then he’s had to come here and front up.
“They’re like old footballers, they just wear out. To not win last prep and to come here and win first-up is great. It’s thrilling.”
A six-year-old gelding by Magnus from the Black Minnaloushe (USA) mare Kamuniak (NZ), Streets Of Avalon has raced 53 times, registering nine wins and 18 minor placings for connections Warren Racing, Mr D Healy, Mr P Farrell, Mr D Dobe, Mr S Foxwell, collecting $1,399,700 in prize money.