Jarrod Austin’s decision to run Territory in Sydney rather than Melbourne paid dividends after the talented sprinter stormed home from the tail of the field to win the ClubsNSW Handicap (1200m) at Rosehill Gardens this afternoon.
Territory was included in the nominations for both the ClubsNSW Handicap and the Group 3 Regal Roller Stakes (1200m) at Caulfield, but Austin elected to keep the Lonhro gelding in Sydney, despite being concerned about the lack of the speed in the race.
Austin’s concerns about the tempo of the race proved to be unwarranted when Scandiva and Skip Town injected plenty of early pace in the race and jockey Lester Grace was able to settle Territory at the tail of the field before weaving his way through the field in the final stages to score a one length victory from Skip Town and Wouldnt It Be Nice.
Territory was ridden close to the pace when he finished a disappointing fourth in the TAB Rewards Handicap (1200m) at Rosehill Gardens on August 2 and Austin said after the race that the seven-year-old needs to be able to find his feet early to perform at his best.
“We went back to what he likes best,” Austin said.
“We were hoping for a bit of speed and it didn’t look like there was going to be, but everything ended up falling into place.
“I was quite happy to see him still nestled in amongst them at the furlong because he likes to be covered up and dash through and he did that.
“I’m glad that we stayed here now.”
Apprentice hoop Lester Grace said after the race that he always planned to settle Territory at the tail of the field and revealed that you need to be patient on the explosive sprinter because he cannot sustain his impressive turn-of-foot for a long time.
“He is a big horse and he does have a big sprint,” Grace said.
“He just can’t sustain that sprint for a while.”
Scandiva was returning to the races for the first time since she failed to fire in the Group 2 Danehill Stakes (1200m) during the 2013 Spring Racing Carnival and she showed plenty of early speed before taking up the running coming into the turn.
The Fastnet Rock mare looked like the winner at the 350 metre mark, but her lack of race fitness caught up to it and she tired in the final stages of the race.