A trip to the Apple Isle next month to target the Hobart Cup – Launceston Cup double could be on the cards for the Peter Morgan and Craig Widdison-trained mare Averau after her barnstorming Bagot Handicap win on New Year’s Day.
Thursday’s January first meeting at Flemington Racecourse featured two upsets in the day’s black-type features with the Danny O’Brien-trained Decircles winning the $150,000 Group 3 Standish Handicap (1200m) and Averau taking out the $150,000 Listed Bagot Handicap (2800m).
Stepping up over the distance for the first time, Averau and her regular rider Linda Meech stalked the front-running pacemaker Mujadale after jumping away from the outside barrier in the 12 horse field.
From there the five-year-old daughter of Stratum showed her natural staying ability, switching off in the run before winding up the eventual fourth placegetter approaching the turn for home.
Averau looked to have gotten ahead a little too soon when she lead from 400m out but there was nothing for her connections to fear as she had plenty left in the tank to win running away from her 11 rivals.
On the line the in-form mare, who paid $8 for the win, held three and a half lengths over 2012 Sandown Classic winner Tanby ($26), the veteran Galileo eight-year-old now prepared by local Flemington trainer Mick Cerchi.
Finishing off the Bagot Handicap trifecta a further two lengths away in third was then O’Brien’s beaten $2.50 favourite De Little Engine who was previously undefeated in his three lead-up runs.
“She just tries her guts out and the other thing about her, you can ride her on a bit of cotton,” Meech, aboard Averau for her past seven runs on the trot, told Racing Victoria post-win.
“She never touches the bit in the run and conserves all her energy until she needs it and she also really appreciated the nicer surface today.”
Now a winner of six of her 17 starts for $220,400 in prize money, Averau also came off a succession of good runs like Encosta De Lago gelding De Little Engine.
Back-to-back wins over 2500m at Moonee Valley were followed by a close second to Cadillac Mountain when defeated just a nose by the subsequent Bagot Handicap seventh placegetter in the Listed Werribee Classic (2635m) on December 14.
The Bagot Handicap was her first black-type victory and co-trainer Peter Morgan is hoping she can continue to rise through the ranks this summer.
“She just keeps on going,” he said.
“She’s just such a fit horse, we don’t have to do much with her and she just keeps on keeping on. She’s a very good stayer.”
He and the fellow Whittlesea-based Widdison are considering a trip to the Apple Isle for a shot at two of the Tasmanian Summer Racing Carnival features with Averau should she pull up well from her Bagot Handicap success.
“The Hobart and the Launceston Cups, we’ve got our eyes upon those, but we’ll just see how she comes through all this and take it day by day,” Morgan said.
The $225,000 Group 3 Hobart Cup (2400m) runs on February 9 followed a fortnight later on February 25 by the $2250,000 Group 3 Launceston Cup (2400m).
Michael Kent’s Cranbourne-based mare Epingle completed the Hobart Cup – Launceston Cup double last year.