Artlee worked home strongly to record a maiden win at black type level in the 2015 Luskin Star Stakes at Scone this afternoon.
Artlee went into the Luskin Star Stakes as a clear favourite from following his impressive victory in the Country Championship Final (1400m) at Royal Randwick on April 6, but connections did not have an enjoyable lead-up to the race after regular hoop Mitchell Bell was ruled out after suffering a wrist injury.
Richard Bensley was given the opportunity to partner Artlee and the battling hoop could not have given the four-year-old a softer run in transit just behind the leading group.
Oxford Poet gave Artlee something to chase in the final stages of the race and he battled home bravely, but Artlee was too strong for his rival in the final stages of the race and he hit the line strongly to take out the 2015 Luskin Star Stakes.
Trainer Todd Willan said after the race that he was always confident Artlee would be able to get the job done in the Luskin Star Stakes and he revealed that he would now set his star galloper for a 2015 Spring Racing Carnival campaign.
“I am still shaking and I am a bit weak at the knees, but it is very exciting,” Willan said.
“He is just a good honest horse and next prep we will find a nice race for him I think.
“I thought that he would get there, once I saw that Richard got him in the clear I thought that was going to be game over because that is the sort of horse that he is.
“If he gets enough galloping room it takes a pretty smart one to get away from him.”
Artlee is owned by a small group of owners and Willan said after the race that he was simply delighted to be able to reward the Feeney and Rogers couples with a black type winner in the 2015 Luskin Star Stakes.
“They are a great bunch of owners and they are right into racing, but they only breed one a year and I just love them to bits.
“They stick by me and go off everything I say, so I couldn’t ask for better owners.”
Artlee has now recorded six wins from his nine race starts and accumulated over $380,000 in prizemoney for connections.