Connections will be considering a Melbourne Spring Racing Carnival raid with progressive three-year-old sprinter Front Page who stole the show at HQ on Saturday with a runaway victory in the Listed $112,000 A.R. Creswick Stakes (1200m).
The three-years-old feature sprint won in recent years by subsequent Group 1 champions Nature Strip (2018) and Gytrash (2019) was won in an upset this winter as the Geoff Duryea-trained Front Page from Corowa blitzed his big city debut.
The son of Magnus came off successive wins at Albury and Wangaratta this prep carrying 61kg both times in far easier company, but proved his ability with a nearly three length win when stepping-up to Black-Type grade down the iconic ‘Straight Six’ at Flemington.
Apprentice Lewis German gave the winner a peach of a ride settling just off the pace before Front Page let down over the final furlong racing away to put 2.75 lengths on his closest rival, $51 outsider Hi Stranger who held off the pace maker Merited ($41) in a photo for the minors.
The heavily-backed favourite King Of Hastings ($2.50) meanwhile didn’t appreciate racing up on the speed facing the breeze in second throughout eventually dropping out to cross over six lengths back ninth in the A.R. Creswick results.
Stable representative Paul Duryea confirmed plans to now send Front Page to the paddock before a return trip to Melbourne for the spring would be weighed up.
“We’re wrapped, really wrapped,” he said after the race.
“He’s a laid-back horse and Lewis, it was another A-grade ride from him.
“He let down good so we’re wrapped.
“He doesn’t care about anything…he just does whatever you want to do.
“We knew he had ability. Obviously, it was a big step up, but we thought if he raced up to what he was showing us we could run top three but obviously, to win like that was a massive bonus.
“At this stage he’ll go to the paddock we just wanted to come down and test him out.
“Maybe some spring plans but we’ll just see how he pulls up and go from there.”
It was the first Flemington win for Geoff Duryea, a former Melbourne Cup hoop, in 14 years.