Assign returned to winning form with a tough staying performance in the 2017 Neville Sellwood Stakes at Rosehill Gardens this afternoon.
Assign returned to the races with a poor performance in the Listed Mornington Cup Prelude (2000m) at Caulfield on February 25 and the Macedon Lodge team elected to freshen him up for the Neville Sellwood Stakes, rather than keep him in Victoria for the Listed Mornington Cup (2400m).
Classic Uniform took up the running in the Neville Sellwood Stakes and ensured that the race was run at a genuine tempo, while Ben Melham had Assign beautifully positioned just behind the speed.
Assign took up the running from Classic Uniform at the 250 metre mark and looked like a sitting duck when Astronomos and Single Gaze both loomed on the outside, but he was too tough in the final stages and claimed his first win since he took out the Group 2 Herbert Power Stakes (2400m) at Caulfield in October.
Melham missed out on riding The Mission in The Schweppervescence when he missed his flight to Sydney this morning, but he more than made up for it with his brilliant ride on Assign in the Neville Sellwood Stakes.
“They ran along at a nice tempo and they went a bit quick for him early, so I just came back and let him find a rhythm,” Melham said.
“They put a gap on him at the top of the straight, but I knew that he would keep coming.
“It wasn’t really his preferred surface and he wasn’t 100 percent comfortable in it, but he did a fantastic job to battle on.
“He got into a great rhythm and he kept finding the line.
“This is a fantastic stable to be riding for.
“They have a lot of quality horses and Robert Hickmott and Lloyd are both very astute horseman and they have good horses that are going places.”
Astronomos took a while to wind up and eventually found the line nicely to finish, while Single Gaze loomed as the winner before she knocked up late.