The consistent Casino Dancer produced another strong performance to take out the 2015 Eclipse Stakes at Sandown this afternoon.
Casino Dancer produced the best performance of her career to date to take out the Group 3 Angst Stakes (1600m) at Royal Randwick on October 10 and she maintained that form in the Filante Handicap (1600m) at the same venue on October 24 and the Group 2 Matriarch Stakes (2000m) at Flemington on November 7.
The original plan was to send Casino Dancer back to Sydney following the Matriarch Stakes, but trainer Mick Van Gestel elected to keep her in Melbourne for the Eclipse Stakes and the decision paid dividends when she finished over the top of Puccini to score an impressive win.
Jockey James Winks was quick to pay credit to the training performance of Van Gestel and he said that he was impressed with the way that Casino Dancer hit the line in the final stages of the Eclipse Stakes.
“Full credit to the trainer and the horse,” Winks said.
“She only raced the other day, she had to back-up and she obviously had a good week.
“She gave me a great ride, I was three deep, but a pair back.
“We struggled down the hill to be honest, but when I balanced her up and gave her a couple of love taps behind the saddle, she went good for me.”
Casino Dancer is the only horse that Van Gestel currently has in work, but she has now almost $500,000 in prizemoney as well as two wins at black-type level.
The Casino Prince mare has now proven that she is more than capable of competing at Group level and Van Gestel revealed that she could press on to the Group 2 Villiers Stakes (1600m) at Royal Randwick in December.
“She has been very good for us,” Van Gestel said.
“We were meant to go home last Sunday, but we decided to stay for another week and it paid off today very well.
“She was a late maturer and we worked her a fair bit, but she is standing up and she is enjoying her racing.
“She is on fire at the moment.
“This week we cuddled her and she never went on the track at all because I know her so well and I was very confident today that she would win.
“I am sure that she is due for a spell and a lot of people would agree, but we might just head to the Villiers.
“We are going back tomorrow and she travels well we will nominate for the Villiers, but certainly a spell will be close by.”
Puccini made his debut for the Darren Weir stable and he produced his best performance in Australia to finish a game second, while Worthy Cause battled home fairly to finish third after being a big drifter in betting.