Veteran gelding Esprit De Bullet is set to make his Group 1 debut in the 2014 Black Caviar Lightning Stakes (1000m) at Flemington in February after storming home late to win the Red Tempo Handicap (1000m) on Saturday.
Esprit De Bullet missed the start and was travelling poorly at the tail of the field in the early stages of the race but worked into the race nicely at the 400 metre mark before storming home with a strong finishing burst to record a narrow victory from Fab Fevola and Lady Of Harrods.
Jockey Vlad Duric admitted that he did not think that Esprit De Bullet could win after his poor start to the race but told Racing Victoria that the eight-year-old built momentum during the race and was thrilled with the way he worked home in the final stages.
“To be honest I was a little bit concerned over the first couple of furlongs because he just couldn’t go any quicker and he had the big weight,” Duric said.
“Once we got inside the 600m he just started to build underneath me and from then on I knew he was going to really finish off the race strongly.
“He’s got a bit of good quality this horse and congratulations to John (Hyam) who floats him over here from Adelaide.”
Trainer John Hyam said in the lead-up to the Red Tempo Handicap that he would give Esprit De Bullet a shot at Group 1 level if he performed well down the Flemington straight and confirmed after the race that the Bel Esprit gelding would be set for the $500,000 Black Caviar Lightning Stakes before chasing wins at Group level in Brisbane and Adelaide.
“He’ll go to the paddock now for a freshen up and then we’ll bring him back for the Lightning to get some weight off his back,” Hyam said.
“He’ll then go back home for the Irwin Stakes over 1100m and then we might take him to Brisbane for the Winter Carnival.
“I’m the third trainer to have him and I’ve had him for 14 months now and he’s won seven races so it’s been good.”
Esprit De Bullet has previously had three starts at Group 3 level and four tilts at Listed race but has been unable to record a maiden black type win; with his second place finish behind Planet Voyage in the 2013 Listed Manihi Classic (1000m) his best performance.