Leading jockey Damien Oliver gave the lightly-raced Lion Of Belfort a gem of a ride to win the Blue Sapphire(1200m) at Caulfield this afternoon.
Lion Of Belfort made his racing debut on the Geelong Synthetic in August, finishing second behind Washington Square, but has made staggering improvement with striking wins in the Surf Coast Limo Bus Plate (1200m) at Geelong and the Mitchelton Wines Plate (1200m) at Moonee Valley on September 27.
The Statute Of Liberty colt was facing a number of horses that have Group 1 form but showed his talent to burst from the middle of the field in the final 100 metres of the race and record an impressive win from Darley colt Safeguard and the fast-finishing Diamond Oasis.
Mick Price was always confident that Lion Of Belfort would handle the step-up in class and was happy with the bravery the three-year-old showed in the final stages of the race.
“That was the second time that horse has got caught in traffic with the blinkers on,” Price said after the race.
“We had a trainer and jockey track about blinkers and winkers but I said let’s just leave him alone.
“The race suited him and the horse was pretty brave to go between those tight gaps.
Price believes that Lion of Belfort is a colt with plenty of talent but said after the race he is unsure what his next step will be with the progressive galloper; with the Group 1 Coolmore Stud Stakes (1200m) at Flemington on November 2nd a possible option.
“Like I said after he won at Moonee Valley he is a strong 1200 metre horse and it is just a question of what we do with him from this point on; it is only his first prep.
“He is a really promising horse; you have the Coolmore there I suppose but we will see how we go.
“We have always like him and he is there under pressure at the end of 1200 metres, which is the main thing.”
Oliver partnered Lion Of Belfort to victory in his ride after returning from suspension at Geelong and clearly has a high opinion of the colt; electing to ride the three-year-old in the Blue Sapphire rather than last-start winner Iconic.
“He took the gaps when they came and he is a brave little horse,” Oliver said after the race.
“To come from a maiden three starts ago and win a big race on Caulfield Guineas Day is a great effort.
“Not many horses can do that and it is a credit to Mick’s training and the horse.”
2013 Blue Diamond Stakes winner Miracles Of Life missed the kick and was never a factor in the finish; with jockey Lauren Stojakovic informing stewards after the race that the speedy filly didn’t feel right in her action and only just travelled during the run.