Talented gelding Royal Island returned to racing with an impressive victory in the 2015 Wangoom Handicap at Warrnambool this afternoon.
Royal Island had not been seen at the races since he failed to fire in the Beveridge Williams Plate (1600m) at Caulfield on August 16 last year, but the Dubawi gelding performed well in a jump-out and there was a sprinkling of money for him at the track.
Jockey Jason Benbow was happy to settle Royal Island in a forward position just off the rail and the five-year-old received a lovely run in transit before Benbow elected to cut the corner coming around the turn, which proved to be a winning move.
Royal Island raced to the front at the 300 metre mark and he extended his lead over his rivals to the line to score a strong victory from Magnus Lad and Taddei Tondo.
Assistant trainer Frank Salanitri was thrilled to see Royal Island finally live up to his potential in the Wangoom Handicap and he revealed that the five-year-old could be sent north for a 2015 Brisbane Winter Racing Carnival campaign.
“He has always promised plenty this horse and he has been stiff his whole career,” Salanitri said.
“He has had races taken off him in town and everything like that, but he is still going forward this horse and he still has some good improvement in him.
“We were thinking that he was just short of one, so he has some good races ahead of him.
“A lot of hard work goes into this and it is good to get these sort of results.
“We were going to go to Brisbane, but we will take him home and have a look at it.
“The owner is quite keen to go to Brisbane, but we will see.”
Benbow gave Royal Island a perfect ride in the Wangoom Handicap, but the modest trainer was quick to shift the attention to Salanitri and he praised the Caulfield-based trainer for his outstanding effort.
The talented hoop said that he was happy to let Royal Island roll into the race slightly wide with cover and he felt that the five-year-old was simply too strong for his opposition in the final stages of the race.
“It was a great training effort,” Benbow said.
“He has been off the scene since August last year and to produce a race like that is a great effort.
“They actually started them a little off the rail and I found myself three wide and pretty much stayed there.
“I had cover and the rest is history.
“I have been coming to Warrnambool for a long time now and to get a feature winner is something I will cherish for the rest of my career.”
Team Corstens-trained Tried And Tired was well-backed in the lead-up to the Wangoom Handicap, but he was never able to get into the race and missed the placings.