The Virginian is on track for another tilt at the 2017 Stradbroke Handicap after he returned to the races with a most impressive victory in the Chief De Beers at Doomben this afternoon.
Jockey Jim Byrne elected not to get involved in the early speed battle and he settled The Virginian towards the tail of the field in the early stages of the race.
Byrne got The Virginian to the outside of the Doomben straight and he showed an outstanding turn-of-foot when asked for an extra effort to finish of the top of his rivals in fairly comfortable fashion.
Trainer Toby Edmonds had said during the week that the Chief De Beers would likely prove too short for The Virginian and that Prompt Response was his best chance in the race, but he said after the race that the wet Doomben track really brought The Virginian into the race.
“The wet track changed things a bit,” Edmonds said.
“Prompt Response is quiet a sharp horse on top of the ground, but he doesn’t quiet get through that going so good.
“It is good to have The Virginian back and it was a great effort.
“He is nominated for the Stradbroke Handicap and that is our plan.”
The Virginian stamped himself as a horse with plenty of talent when he chased home Under The Louvre and Black Heart Bart in the Group 1 Stradbroke Handicap (1400m) last year, but he failed to shine in two race starts during the 2016 Spring Racing Carnival.
Byrne was pleased to see The Virginian returned to his best form and he believes that the son of Hinchinbrook will go into the Stradbroke Handicap at Eagle Farm on June 10 as a genuine winning chance.
“He has two trials heading into this and last campaign he probably just didn’t shine to what he could have,” Byrne said.
“He is a nice horse and he gave a nice trial last start that showed what he could do.
“You know he handles Eagle Farm and he has run third in it before, so he is definitely a horse that is an outside chance there.”
Highly Geared finished second at big odds for Canberra-based trainer Garry Kirkup and Quelle Liaison snuck into the placings at a quote of $101.