On a typically competitive eight-race card at Donald last Saturday the most impressive win came from Golden Crusader ($3.50 favourite) on his Australian debut in the 1620-metre maiden.
The French-bred gelding jumped well and led throughout, kicking away from his rivals in the run home to win by 3¾ lengths in excellent time.
Co-trainer Michael Kent junior was impressed by the stable’s latest import.
“He was good, wasn’t he? Australian Bloodstock are savvy investors — they bought him on the back of some good runs in maidens up north (in the UK). He was very well placed to win first up here.”
Kent said the son of Golden Horn would now race through his grades, agreeing that he could be one of those rare runners to rise from maiden grade to stronger company and have an immediate impact.
“Yeah, for sure. He’ll go to a 64 at Bendigo on the 14th (of July) over a mile and be very competitive.”
The Price/Kent yard kicked off a winning double earlier in the day with promising three-year-old The Problem With ($2.70 favourite) taking the 1350-metre maiden win at his second start.
Kent heaped praised on the effort of the Dream Ahead gelding.
“He had to do it at both ends. He got softened up at the start, didn’t get it his own way and had to use a bit of petrol.”
The Problem With was tough to the line, pulling his way to a half-length win full of merit.
“We’ve got metropolitan ambitions for him,” Kent said. “He’ll go to a 64 at Cranbourne then, things being well, we’ll head to town with him.”
The in-form stable had one other runner on the program, fourth placegetter Six Feet ($7) in race one.
“He ran well — he got trapped wide throughout and hung on well. He can be followed next start,” Kent said.
Jake Noonan and Jack Hill rode the team’s winners.
One runner to follow from Donald is the Tony and Calvin McEvoy-trained filly Pontificate.
In just her second race start, the three-year-old defied her starting price ($31) and proved her recent Horsham jumpout win was no fluke, running a half-length second to The Problem With.
The daughter of Dundeel looked a treat in the yard and ran accordingly, just overpowered late by the favourite with a two-length gap to third-placed Thisismyturf ($4).
Another to watch came out of race one — Lindsey Smith’s two-year-old debutant Blakmax.
Racing in restricted room for most of the straight, the Brazen Beau colt looked to have more to offer as he crossed the line.
Both of these runners will be breaking their maiden status sooner rather than later.
San goes bang
The Maldon stable of Brian and Ashley McKnight enjoyed a day out at Donald on Saturday, bringing up a winning treble.
As tipped here last week, the McKnights’ San Marino ($3.80) proved the good thing of the day over 1000 metres, winning his benchmark 58 event by half a length.
San Marino will return to the Wimmera for another benchmark 58 over 1200 metres at Warracknabeal on Monday July 4.
See the Goldfields column on page 46 for a full wrap of the McKnights’ big day.