Talented gelding Flamberge bounced back from his surprise defeat in the Lanec Services Handicap (1000m) to take out the Group 3 Standish Handicap (1200m) at Flemington on New Year’s Day.
The Standish Handicap had always been the summer goal for Flamberge and he was far too good for the rest of the eleven-strong field; recording a comfortable two and a half lengths victory from Essay Raider and Decircles to score his maiden win at Group level.
An afternoon shower in Melbourne meant that the Standish Handicap was run on a dead five track and jockey Vlad Duric believed that this was a major advantage for Flamberge, who had previously won on rain affected tracks at Flemington and Ballarat.
“I think the key to him today was that he began well and settled so well,” Duric said.
“Just having Decircles in front of him allowed him to switch off and it helped him round off the six furlongs really strongly.
“When the rain came I was reaching for the form guide to look at his wet-track form and he obviously goes pretty well when it’s soft.
“It was a good win, a great way to kick off the year.”
Flamberge has recorded five wins from 13 career starts after making his racing debut with a two and a half lengths victory in the Ballarat Come To Life Maiden (1100m) in June of last year.
The Exceed And Excel gelding scored his first city win in the Programmed Property Services Handicap (1200m) at a Flemington a fortnight later but failed to fire when stepped up in class for the Tattsbet.Com Handicap (1200m) at Caulfield.
He missed the 2012 Spring Racing Carnival and returned to racing with a third place finish behind Shamexpress in the Macleod Premium Handicap (1000m) at Moonee Valley and had a couple of narrow second place finishes before returning to the winners stall with a victory over Lankan Rupee in the Living Legends Handicap (1100m).
Flamberge started his summer campaign with a strong win in the East Malvern Bank Handicap (1100m) and has raced exclusively at Flemington this preparation; with yesterday’s win improving his record to three wins from five starts at the home of the Victoria Racing Club.
2012 Australian Derby winner Ethiopia was returning to the races for the first time since finishing seventh in the 2013 Melbourne Cup but was never in the race and finished a distant tenth.