HUNTER-based syndicators Australian Bloodstock hope a cancelled flight to Queensland proves a blessing in disguise for Articus when he finally makes the trip for the Doomben Cup (2000 metres).
Articus, a four-time winner in France and Germany from nine starts, broke his Australian maiden on Saturday at Flemington in the $100,000 Chairman’s Club Handicap (1800m).
The Darren Weir-trained five-year-old entire was to race in the $250,000-to-the-winner group 2 Hollindale Stakes (1800m) on the Gold Coast on Saturday, where Kris Lees’ Sense Of Occasion was fifth, but he was forced off his flight from Melbourne. He was booked to travel on Wednesday but lost his place to cargo as late as Friday, forcing connections to instead race him at home.
In his first Australian start, Articus finished 13th in the Caulfield Cup last October and he returned three weeks ago with another 13th at the same track. Australian Bloodstock director Luke Murrell expected an improvement on the weekend but was pleasantly surprised by the one-length win in 1 minute, 48.12 seconds.
“They ran only four lengths outside the track record [of 1.47.05] and we were hoping he’d run third or fourth, because he wasn’t ready fitness-wise, so it was a good surprise,” Murrell said.
“We thought he was on the right track, so we were pleased to see him do it.
“He didn’t get around the Caulfield track in the Caulfield Cup and his last run there was first-up and just a prep run. The track was a bit firm too. He likes the sting out of it.”
Murrell believed the performance made Articus a genuine hope in the May 20, $650,000 Doomben Cup.
“Given a lot of the horses ran there at Flemington, and the other times on the day, he’ll run top three off that,” he said. “He’s a real good chance. I think he can win off that. I think he would have run super in the other race. It would have been a good test, but perhaps it’s good for the horse that he gets that confidence of running past them and beating them easy. That’s one plus, and the owners are happy.”
He said another Australian Bloodstock import, Singing, will line up in the Scone Cup on Friday with Robert Thompson aboard