Almoonqith showed an outstanding turn-of-foot to defy a betting drift and take out the 2015 Sandown Cup this afternoon.
Almoonqith was a big drifter in the lead-up to the Sandown Cup, but jockey Michael Walker was able to settle him in an outstanding position in the early stages of the race just behind the leading group, while Maygrove took up the running from Pop ‘N’ Scotch.
Walker patiently waited to make his move on Almoonqith, but the Geelong Cup winner showed a brilliant turn-of-foot when he was asked for an extra effort at the 400 metre mark to race away from his rivals and record a strong win from The Offer and Grand Marshal.
Almoonqith was never able to get into the race when he was settled close to the tail of the field in the Group 1 Melbourne Cup (3200m) and Walker said that he was delighted to be able to ride the Dynaformer entire more aggressively in the early stages of the Sandown Cup.
“I was very fortunate that I was allowed to go forward today and I ended up in a beautiful spot,” Walker said.
“I was confident coming into the straight and he was going really good.
“He had the nice run and he has a bit of class, but I think next year he will improve and he will be in the Melbourne Cup again.”
Co-trainer David Hayes was thrilled to see Almoonqith return to winning form in the 2015 Sandown Cup, but he was quick to pay credit to the outstanding ride of Walker – who is set for a lengthy stint on the sidelines after he undergoes a hip replacement.
Hayes is now hopeful that Almoonqith will receive an invitation to run in the Group 1 Hong Kong Vase (2400m) at Sha Tin on December 13 and he said that the Group 1 Sydney Cup (3200m) and Melbourne Cup will be the long-term goals for the promising stayer.
“It was a great effort by the horse, but it was an even better effort by Michael Walker,” Hayes said.
“He is about to go on holidays with his hip replacement, but he has gone out on a terrific note – that was just a great ride.
“He got back in the race and was just a non-factor, but that Melbourne Cup form is coming out everywhere.
“Hopefully he goes to Hong Kong and he will head to Sydney for the Sydney Cup.
“He would be an ideal horse for that and back here for next year’s Melbourne Cup.
“He has shown Sheikh Hamden that he can run two miles now and he is a promising young stayer.
“This is his first prep and I expect him to be better in the autumn.”
The form coming out of the Melbourne Cup really stacked up in the Sandown Cup as The Offer chased home Almoonqith to finish second and Grand Marshal was typically gallant in third.