Consistent sprinter Flamberge started his 2014 Spring Racing Carnival campaign with an impressive win in the 2014 The Heath Stakes at Caulfield this afternoon.
Flamberge was settled just behind the leader in the early stages of the race that is now known as Theshark.com.au Stakes and responded well when asked for an extra effort from jockey Vlad Duric to score a comfortable win from Rifleman and Hard Stride.
Trainer Peter Moody admitted that he was worried before the race that Flamberge would struggle under the top weight of 58 kilograms and said that the Exceed And Excel gelding had not really impressed in his trackwork heading into the Group 3 event.
Flamberge has previously performed well at Group 1 level, finishing fifth in both the Group 1 Oakleigh Plate (1100m) and Group 1 Newmarket Handicap (1200m) during the 2014 Melbourne Festival Of Racing, but Moody said that he did not have a particular target in mind for the five-year-old.
“He is just a little gem and he puts his all in every time,” Moody said after the race.
“He doesn’t do a lot for us at home and he saves it for raceday.
“I doubted him under the weight with 58, he struggled under those weights previously and he is just an unbelievably courageous little horse and punches well above his weight.
“He is terrific down the straight, he loves soft ground and we will just pick our path carefully during the spring.
“He is not a big horse and he doesn’t have to go to the races too often.”
Duric has previously ridden Flamberge on a number of occasions, steering the consistent galloper to victory over Lankan Rupee in April last year, but he believes that the five-year-old is in the best condition of his career to date heading into the 2014 Spring Racing Carnival.
“He has just raised the bar every prep and he really lengthened when he got out today,” Duric said.
“He is not a big horse, but he just really tries hard and is so genuine.
“He is in for probably his best prep this time around.
“He trialed a bit lackluster in his couple of trials and we couldn’t get a real guide on him, but he is just a real racehorse.”
Talented mare Vain Queen was extremely well-backed in the lead-up to The Heath, but she was settled towards the tail of the field in the early stages of the race by jockey Craig Williams and she was blocked for a run in the final stages of the race; with the leading hoop stating after the race that the five-year-old would have run the race with any luck.