Under The Louvre scored a fighting victory over a gallant Black Heart Bart in the 2016 Stradbroke Handicap at Eagle Farm this afternoon.
Under The Louvre was unable to catch Black Heart Bart in The Goodwood in Adelaide and he looked as though he would be the bridesmaid at Group 1 level again, but his easier run in transit paid dividends in the final stages of the race.
Jockey Dwayne Dunn admitted that the softer run was the difference maker in the last 50 metres of the Stradbroke Handicap and he said that he was thrilled to be able to steer Under The Louvre to his maiden Group 1 victory.
“It is great to be back here at Eagle Farm,” Dunn said.
“I just had a little bit better of a run than Black Heart Bart in transit, so he beat me in Adelaide and we were able to turn-the-tables.
“You just have to get to three wide or four wide and it just keeps getting better.
“1400 can be his little nemesis, but I just got into a lovely spot with a nice little bit of cover and I had the opportunity to leave a little bit of petrol in the tank.
“Because he hasn’t hit the front for so long I just don’t think he really knew how to put them away, but he is a great horse and he deserves to win his Group 1.
“He is going to make a nice stallion for someone.”
Trainer Robert Smerdon said throughout the week that he has always had concerns about Under The Louvre running out a strong 1400 metres and he admitted after the race that he was never confident that his galloper would be able to hold-off Black Heart Bart.
The veteran trainer was quick to pay credit to the ride of Dwayne Dunn and, like his jockey, he was clearly thrilled to see Under The Louvre finally record a maiden win at the highest level after so many close calls.
“He is such a genuine horse and he has been so competitive at the highest level for some time,” Smerdon said
“1400 just stretches him, but Dwayne always had the back of Black Heart Bart.
“Even when he got to him I wasn’t sure because I just know that 1350 is his go, but he toughed it out and found the line really well.
“It was courtesy of a good ride too, but you have to have that in any race, let alone at this level.”
Under The Louvre and Black Heart Bart put a gap in the rest of the Stradbroke Handicap field, but the story of the race was arguably The Virginian, who finished third in just his fourth race start at a massive price.