Australia: Appleby again as Assisi lands another blow

Charlie Appleby's remarkable carnival rolled on with Francis Of Assisi

PICTURE: Edward Whitaker (racingpost.com/photos) It's Appleby again as Assisi lands another blow
By Mark Scully in Melbourne 7:10AM 5 NOV 2016

Report: Australia, Saturday

Flemington: Queen Elizabeth Stakes (Group 3 handicap) 1m5f, turf, 3yo+

CHARLIE APPLEBY struck yet again in Melbourne as Francis Of Assisi posted a second wide-margin victory, following his Bendigo Cup success a week and a half ago.

Connections were disappointed on Friday when Scottish was ruled out of Saturday's Group 1 Emirates Stakes with a strained near-fore fetlock but were left delighted as Francis Of Assisi kept the stable's excellent run going.

Partnered this time by William Buick instead of Kerrin McEvoy, the gelding loomed up to the long-time leader Tom Melbourne, who was grabbed late on by the Appleby-trained Oceanographer in last Saturday's Lexus Stakes at the same course, before powering clear.

The gap was ultimately a massive ten lengths to Vengeur Masque, with Tom Melbourne doing enough to take third another three quarters of a length adrift. The win was Godolphin's third in the race following the successes of Hatha Anna in 2001 and Fantastic Love in 2004.

"This horse has been leading all the work out here and I have to say, you can see mentally he is just thriving," said Appleby. "He's had decent horses coming up alongside him every morning but when he's got his own head in front, he's thought he was King Kong.

"We thought he might have the credentials to perform well down here and we couldn't be any more pleased with what he's achieved."

Appleby confirmed Qewy's remaining target is next week's Sandown Cup instead of the Zipping Classic and the trainer also confirmed all five his runners – Scottish, Second Wave, Qewy, Oceanographer and Francis Of Assisi – will leave Australia in the coming weeks.

"We'll get them all back home, regroup and think about a team for next year," he said.

"We brought these horses out here to test the water and we had no idea how they would campaign because it was our first experience over here.

"It's been a great learning curve for us and we couldn't have asked for it to go any better. Unfortunately, it's just raised the bar for next year when we pitch up, so let's hope we can perform as well!"

Also on Satuday:

Flemington: Emirates Stakes (Group 1) 1m2f, turf, 3yo+

Awesome Rock (Stephen Baster/Leon and Troy Corstens), who was disqualified after being first past the post in the Australian Cup over course and distance in March, finally gained a first win at the highest level on Saturday.

The victory, which was the first for the Corstens since son Troy joined father Leon in training partnership, sparked wild scenes of celebration in the mounting yard as relief poured out from connections.

"I want to wait until they call correct weight," Troy Corstens joked. "We've said all along he's such a beautiful animal and we were desperate to get him the Group 1 he deserves.

"The way Stephen tracked Vadamos was brilliant, it was an unbelievable ride and it's brilliant because he's a good mate of mine."

Vadamos had been far too keen in the Cox Plate at Moonee Valley a fortnight ago and the French raider was headstrong again as he tore through the opening furlongs, despite the testing wind gusting across Flemington.

"He ran really well," said jockey Damien Oliver. "He was still keen but more manageable today, he didn't want to take off mid-race. It has been very difficult for the leaders today, so under the circumstances I think he ran well."

Flemington: Darley Classic (Group 1) 6f, turf, 3yo+

The final Group 1 of Flemington's spring programme went the way of Malaguerra (Peter Gelagotis/Ben Melham), giving the five-year-old a second career Group 1.

Ridden by Ben Melham, who partnered Black Caviar to win this race six years ago, Malaguerra fended off the late dive of Spieth to score by a short head, with half a length back to Fell Swoop in third.

The gelding was having only his second start for Gelagotis after leaving the stable of Lee and Anthony Freedman earlier this year and Gelagotis paid tribute to his former handlers.

"A lot of credit has to go to the Freedmans, they did a lot of good work with the horse," he said. "I came into the race today quietly confident and I'm so proud for the owners. A lot of thought goes into these situations and good things happen to good people."

Cloud bursts to comeback win

He had been off the track since finishing sixth in the Irish Derby of 2013 but Little White Cloud posted a remarkable win in the 1m2f handicap at Flemington on Saturday.

Ruler Of The World was sent off the 4-5 favourite at the Curragh that day, with Trading Leather ultimately coming out on top and many could have been forgiven for thinking we had seen the last of that contest popping up in the form book.

The now seven-year-old had other ideas though, as he battled to a length-and-a-quarter success in the colours of Tuesday's Melbourne Cup-winning owner Lloyd Williams.

"They've done a great job at the farm in conditioning him," said Williams' son, Nick. "You could knock me over with a feather here, I couldn't have envisioned him being ready to win today.

"We knew he had the ability but they don't normally win after that long off."

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