Ayrton stamped his credentials as favourite for the $1.5 million Group 1 Stradbroke Handicap with an “easy” win at Caulfield on Saturday.
Despite resuming short of his best distance, after a five-month break, the boom gelding never looked in danger, winning the Darren Gauci Handicap (1200m) under a hold from superstar jockey Jamie Kah.
Kah has “pretty much” committed to riding Ayrton in Queensland.
The three-year-old son of Iffraaj must win the Group 3 Fred Best Classic at Eagle Farm on May 29 to guarantee a start in the Stradbroke — Queensland’s richest race.
Trainer Mick Price, who has long held a high opinion of Ayrton, declared the gelding one of his best ever.
“I’m not a big spruiker, I hope I’m not anyway,” Price said.
“I remember when we first had the horse on his first start a couple of Hong Kong people rang and I usually say ‘give me a figure’ but this was a plain ‘no, not happening’.
“I think he’s one of the better horses I’ve had.”
Ayrton is back.
It's a fantastic five for @jamieleekah07 🌟🌟🌟🌟🌟 pic.twitter.com/71jfVrHqpc
Price, a winner of 35 Group 1s, prepared champion sprinter Lankan Rupee and boom colts-turned-successful first-season sires Extreme Choice and Flying Artie.
Ayrton’s victory sparked a swift market reaction, the gelding firming from $5 to $4.50 at TAB for the Stradbroke.
Ayrton, who will travel to Queensland in coming days to prepare for the “win and you’re in” Fred Best, coasted into the race rounding the bend and won with ears pricked on the line.
After going into the race a tad nervous about the 1200m journey, Price maintained the gelding would be even better at 1400m and 1600m.
“I still say that 1200m, when you look back on his form when he gets a bit older, it will not be his best distance,” Price said.
“But the race was put on nicely for him, the barrier was good and the horse was strong to the line.
“It looked like it was an easy sort of a win.”
Ayrton gave Jamie Kah an equal best five winners at Caulfield. Picture: Vince Caligiuri/Getty ImagesSource:Getty Images
Kah, who finished with personal best-equal five winners on the card, was enamoured by Ayrton.
“He’s a more relaxed and furnished horse this time in and I just loved the way this horse still hasn’t quickened underneath me yet, he just extends,” Kah said.
“Once he puts it all together he’s going to be a really exciting horse over a bit of ground.
“I’ve pretty much confirmed to ride him in Brisbane but we’ll have to see what weight he gets because I might need to start dieting now if he goes to the Stradbroke.
“He’s the main reason I’m here (today), I was looking forward to him all day and I love the way he’s come back.”
Remember this name: Generation.
The Snitzel colt, a $550,000 Gold Coast Magic Millions graduate, should win better races after maintaining his unbeaten record with a three-length Caulfield romp.
Star jockey Jamie Kah allowed the Ciaron Maher and David Eustace-trained two-year-old to find his groove in the run before putting a space on rivals in the straight.
“I’ve got a pretty good opinion of this horse and it’d be nice to teach him to not have to jump and run every start,” Kah said.
“He took that extra hundred metres (to settle) which I wasn’t worried about because he’s a classy horse.
“If he can learn to drop the bit and settle, I think he’s going to be a nice horse. All he can do is win and he did that pretty easily.”
Generation, who won on debut in Adelaide, could head north to Queensland for the Brisbane winter carnival.
Generation is now two from two after another stylish victory. Picture: Vince Caligiuri/Getty ImagesSource:Getty Images
WORTH THE WAIT I
Richard Laming and connections of Excelman have gone to the races before and rued the results but on Saturday their collective luck changed courtesy of a Jamie Kah special.
Rinse and repeat the Kah acclamations of late but Melbourne’s premier jockey ensured Excelman would not be denied again, making an early move to run out a comprehensive winner.
“I don’t like getting too bullish with him because he can find some bad luck,” Laming said.
“Jamie put that out of the question pretty quickly. She rode him absolutely perfectly, and that’s how you want to see those $2 shots win.
“I was a little bit worried she could have been boxed back on the fence but she made sure that didn’t happen.”
WORTH THE WAIT II
Funny thing is, none of Holbien’s dedicated owners bothered to back him on Saturday.
Such was the thrill of winning again after a gut-wrenching spate of minor placings — seven in the past 11 starts alone including four runners-up cheques — the punt felt inconsequential.
After some nervous moments in the run, as GOLD FIELDS pestered Holbien on the speed, the Pierro gelding responded to the urgings of in-form apprentice Laura Lafferty to post a sixth career win.
The triumph completed the Melbourne “set” following Holbien’s wins at Sandown, Flemington and The Valley.
Streetcar Stranger lived up to market expectations to run out a soft winner.
Despite being forced to enter the fray sooner than Jamie Kah wanted, the Adelaide raider found plenty to defy Sam’s Image and Blazejowski.
“I was happy enough to bide my time inside of them and hope that the gap would come,” Kah said.
“But it came a lot earlier than I wanted it to. It was big of him to do what he did last start and to bring the form here and run like that is a credit to the team. I always love riding winners for these people.
“David Jolly put me on when I was claiming three (kilos) and I was very messy on them but he kept putting me on. I’m glad to repay him now.”
Originally published asPrice declares Ayrton ’one of my best’
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