Sam Collett guides Astor to a clear-cut win at Ellerslie - the premiership-leading jockey's 81st victory of the season.
Premiership leader Sam Collett reached a new personal best with a fitting win in the first race at Ellerslie this afternoon.
Collett arrived at the Auckland track today with 80 wins to her name in 2017-18, equalling the career-best total she set the previous season.
Her mount in the Beko Appliances 1200 was the $1.60 favourite Astor, trained by her partner Cody Cole.
The Iffraaj filly raced keenly in the early stages, but as the pace slackened, Collett allowed her to improve to sit outside the leader approaching the home turn.
Astor cruised to the front in the straight and quickly put the result beyond doubt, drawing clear to win by three and three-quarter lengths from Morrie Ock and Eeny Meeny Miny Mo.
The win was the third from seven starts for the Gary Harding-owned Astor, who was a last-start second to Melody Belle in the Gr. 3 Mongolian Khan Trophy.
“There was no Melody Belle today,” Collett said. “We wanted to keep her off the rail because we didn’t want her getting stuck in a pocket. She raced a little bit fresh, and I didn’t want her to over-exert herself in testing ground. She did it well.”
With her tally now at 81, Collett leads the premiership by 19. The defending champion Chris Johnson is in second with 62.
Last month’s Mongolian Khan Trophy was Astor’s first start for Cole, having previously been trained by Danica Guy.
“It was a bit of an unknown for Cody last time,” Collett said.
Cole is targeting the Listed Mufhasa Stakes over 1300 metres on Derby day, two weeks from today.
“It was a good win today and a good ride by Sam – she took bad luck out of the equation in the small field,” he said. “She was a bit slowly away last time, so we kept her a bit on the fresh side today. There’s still some improvement in her, and I’d say that her action suggests she’ll be better on drier ground.”
The time was 1:12.08 on a track that has improved to Slow8 after being Heavy11 on Wednesday. Collett described the Slow8 reading as accurate.