The handicapper will have a bearing on whether In Her Time chases a second Melbourne Group One sprint after a fighting victory in the Lightning Stakes at Flemington.
Trainer Kris Lees prepared the six-year-old to win today’s 1000-metre dash, holding out a late burst from Godolphin galloper Osborne Bulls.
Backed from $4.80 into $4.40, In Her Time defeated Osborne Bulls ($8) by a short head, with the $3.20 favourite Sunlight a neck away third. Sunlight’s jockey Luke Currie viewed the head-on footage of the concluding stages before deciding against lodging an objection.
Lees took over In Her Time last spring after fellow Newcastle trainer Ben Smith was stood down when four of his horses returned elevated cobalt levels last year.
In Her Time won the The Galaxy at Group One level last autumn for Smith, and Lees said the mare was likely to stay in Melbourne for the Newmarket Handicap at Flemington on March 9. Redkirk Warrior won the Lightning-Newmarket double last year.
“I have to thank Ben Smith, he’s done a wonderful job with this mare throughout her career and also Cameron Swan for making the transition very smooth,” Lees said.
“We’ll probably stay for the Newmarket but she’s a dual Group One winner so we’ll see what the handicapper gives her.”
Winning rider Corey Brown said the slow start from two-year-old Jedastar helped his cause. Apprentice Chris Caserta rode Jedastar at 44kg after wasting throughout the week, but the filly was never a chance, finishing last of the 11 runners.
“The moment she missed the start I shut him (Casterta) out of it,” Brown said. “I wasn’t going to let him run up underneath me because it would have made my mare race and it would have wrecked the race for me.
“She didn’t win by a big margin but she was tough.”
Runner-up Osborne Bulls firmed to $5 favouritism for the Newmarket, while In Her Time shortened from $11 to $8.
Craig Williams described runner-up Osborne Bull’s performance as awesome.
“He’s never competed at five furlongs … or Group One,” Williams said. “On his day, trained up, he’s the best sprinter in Australia.”
Luke Currie said Sunlight was brave and will derive benefit for the outing heading towards the Newmarket.