HE’S been hailed as the next Lazarus . . . and the greatest three-year-old pacer in Australasia.
And this afternoon at Tabcorp Park Menangle Vincent proved just that as he cruised to an Australasian record 1:50.2 mile win in the Breeders Challenge final for three-year-old colts and geldings.
The Art Major-Kept For Pleasure colt gave Mark Purdon his lone Group One for the day when he beat a plucky Atomic Red with outsider Joes Star Of Mia third.
Some suspected Vincent might be vulnerable after he had to pull out all stops to hold off Pretty Hot and Jakes Sportswriter in his Breeders Challenge semi-final the previous week, when he rated 1:51 to score by just a metre with Luke McCarthy in the bike.
Yet Purdon admitted Vincent needed that run and would be improved out of sight for the $153,000 final against some of the best three-year-olds in the land.
As usual, he was right as Vincent showed he would easily fit into the big pair of shoes that Lazarus currently fills for Purdon’s All Stars New Zealand stable.
He easily ran down pacemaker Atomic Red in the straight to win almost untouched after splits of 26.2, 29s, 27.6s, 27.4s for a 1:50.2 mile rate, breaking stablemate Our Waikiki Beach’s record of 1:50.6 posted early last year.
So impressive was Vincent both in appearance and talent that this three-year-old already looks to be Purdon’s next New Zealand Cup winner . . . after Lazarus steps down from the podium, of course.
* Earlier the three-year-old fillies’ Breeders Challenge final saw another minor upset, of sorts . . . albeit a historic one when Georges Plans [Bathurst] trainer-driver Bernie Hewitt broke through for his first Group One success when Royal Story scored.
The draw told the story of the race when Royal Story was quick to find the front from gate four and defied all attempts to run her down.
Once again it was the two second-row runners Don’t Think Twice and Shezallapples that had to do it tough if they were to beat Royal Story, who was well found in the betting as the $5 second favourite.
“We’d never send our horses anywhere else,” said owner Gary Meredith.
“We call Royal Story ‘Big Girl’ around the stables but this is actually our 20th win with them as owners and we couldn’t be happier with the way we’ve been treated.”
Hewitt was naturally ecstatic with his breakthrough win.
“We put a lot of work into working with juveniles and to come here and win a race like this makes it all worthwhile,” he said.
“But just to be able to train and drive a filly likes this is a great thrill and today she showed us how good she is.
“A lot of people in our stable can take some of the credit for this – mostly my wife Cathy who holds us all together and makes wins like this all the more worthwhile.”
Don’t Think Twice had to do it tough from the second row and failed by a mere half-head from running down Royal Story after racing three-wide earlier in the race as young trainer-driver Jason Grimson sought to put him into the action.
In contrast, last year’s two-year-old fillies’ winner Shezallapples settled near last and, similar to 2016, came with a flashing finish 1.4m away in third place in a 1:53 mile rate.