The Peter Moody trained Highly Recommended will head to Sydney for the Rosehill Guineas after taking out the Group 2 $200,000 Top Cut Alister Clark stakes (2040m) at Moonee Valley last night.
Luke Nolen timed his run well on the three year old who showed great fight in chasing down the tearaway leader Sangster to score by half a length at his first try over the distance.
Danny Nikolic set up a commanding lead on the Victoria Derby winner but wasn’t able to hold off the strong finish of Highly Recommended to wind up third with the Pat Carey trained Ethiopia splitting the pair for second.
Moody had planned a start for the Fastnet Rock colt in the Group 1 $500,000 Rosehill Guineas (2000m) at Rosehill on March 31 after last year’s Spring and last night’s win confirmed a trip to Sydney.
“He’s been ultra consistent at the top level his whole career and we really looked forward to getting him out to the mile and a quarter,” Moody said.
“We targeted the Rosehill Guineas in two weeks for him off the back of his spring campaign and now it’s all starting to come together.”
The premier trainer had been waiting to step Highly Recommended up in distance after racing consistently in good company around 1600m and is certain now that he has had a win over the 2040m will be able to compete at the top level over similar trips.
“He’s a big dopey bugger and it has taken a while for the penny to drop but we always had a strong feeling about him getting the distance.”
“Very few horses win their first runs at a mile and a quarter and this will stand him in good stead going forward as they usually improve considerably after the one run at the trip,” Moody said.
Friday night’s win was only Highly Recommended’s second victory from twelve starts but that included a last start fifth to Mosheen in the Group 1 $750,000 Australian Guineas (1600m) at Flemington two weeks ago.
Previous to that he was third to the Mosheen in the Listed $100,000 Shadwell Stud Australasia Stakes (1200m) at Caulfield on February 4 and a dead heat for third to That’s The One in the Group 3 $150,000 CS Hayes Stakes (1410m) at Flemington on February 18.
Kiwi trainer Trent Busuttin will push on with a Rosehill Guineas start with Sangster after the Victoria Derby winner showed improvement in the Alister Clark.
Busuttin had threatened to call off Sangster’s Autumn campaign and return to New Zealand after the three year old could only beat one runner home in the Australian Guineas but will now continue onto Sydney.