The combination of a great ride form Hugh Bowman and the addition of blinkers saw Brave Smash run over his rivals in the Group 1 $1m Ladbrokes Manikato Stakes (1200m) at The Valley on Friday night.
Bowman settled Brave Smash just off the pace after the Darren Weir trained sprinter flew the gates with the rest of the field and had him ready to pounce on the leader on the home turn.
Brave Smash ($8.50) set out to run down the Aidan O’Brien trained Spirit Of Valor ($18) and overpowered the Irish sprinter in the shadow of the post to get the judge’s decision.
The James Cummings trained Kementari ($8) rattled home from last on the corner to grab third spot just ahead of Garry Frazer’s Spright ($17).
The Tony McEvoy trained Sunlight was sent out as the $4.40 favourite but the three year old filly couldn’t match it with the older sprinters and wound up in seventh position.
Brave Smash was coming off a last start disappointing eighth to Redzel in the $13m The Everest (1200m) at Randwick a fortnight ago and trainer Darren Weir was happy to forget that run on the heavy track.
Weir added the blinkers to Brave Smash’s race day gear and the master trainer got the desired result back on top of the ground aided by a terrific ride from Bowman.
“The plan was to put the blinkers on in the Everest but Hughie said he probably didn’t need them, but he needed them tonight to get in the right spot,” Weir said.
“He got a great ride. He pinged the gates and got into a really nice spot.
“We thought we had him right going to Sydney but in the end it was the track.
“You get it wrong a lot but we got it right tonight.”
Aidan O’Brien’s travelling foreman T J Comerford said that the stable was happy with the run of Spirit Of Valor who had to do plenty of work early from the outside barrier in the fourteen horse field and was still able to fight hard in the run to the line.
“Aidan is very happy,” Comerford said.
“It’s not easy bringing sprinters down here to Australia but he’s done a great job.”
The Manikato Stakes win was Brave Smash’s second Group 1 win for Weir since the sprinter arrived from Japan and added to his win in the Group 1 $500,000 italktravel Futurity Stakes (1400m) at Caulfield during the 20118 Melbourne Autumn Carnival.