Italian Revolution runs riot
Bridesmaid’s tag is shed as Baertschiger’s three-year-old finally goes one better
After knocking on the door for a while, Italian Revolution finally broke through for his first hurrah on Saturday.
A first test on grass proved to be the winning formula, even if the Caravaggio three-year-old was no slouch on Polytrack, as evidenced by his three seconds from as many starts.
But, convinced that turf is still his strongest suit, trainer Shane Baertschiger must have felt vindicated when the on-pace galloper led from barrier to box in the $75,000 Restricted Maiden race over 1,200m.
“I was looking for a first run on turf for him at the last meeting in 2022, but he couldn’t get a run. He’s better on turf,” said the Australian.
“But he’s actually beaten by some pretty good horses at his three starts, especially that handy horse (Mykyta) at his last start.”
Besides a surface switch, a change of pilot was the other new element thrown into the equation.
But again, Baertschiger qualified that the booking of top jockey Vlad Duric in lieu of stable rider Matthew Kellady was purely tactical.
“Matty did nothing wrong on this horse, but he’s had three chances on him. So I thought I’d give Vlad a try and see how we go,” he said.
The four-time Singapore champion jockey modestly played down his contribution, though, bouncing off all the credit to the conveyance he was legged up on.
“Shane has been wanting to take a seat with this horse for a while. But not today, as it was a small field,” said the Australian hoop.
“He stood there for a long time, but he sprung the gates very well. He controlled the race and had no pressure.
“He was good today, he pricked his ears, so I had plenty of horse. But, if there is some pressure in front, he can be vulnerable.
“Going forward, he can also sit off a high-pressure race as he has a good turn of foot.
“But I think he’s just a sprinting type. He’s a neat horse who will win plenty of races.”
Duric has seldom been seen since racing resumed on Jan 7, with Italian Revolution being only his sixth ride.
But, as the heavyweight rider cannot cut his arm off, he has learned how to make the best out of a weighty situation.
“After six weeks off (during the December break), I struggle with my weight at my age, but I chipped away,” he said philosophically.
“Those good horses come up now and again, though, and I’m happy to get my fair share of winners.”
Picking and choosing quality rides that fit his weight range is one thing, but he still has to steer them home.
He duly turned up with a copybook front-running ride on Italian Revolution.
Though the $8 favourite was not out like a scalded cat at barrier rise, Duric just had to bustle him up for that perfectly dosed early burst to find the front.
Once the rail was secured, the pair enjoyed a soft lead, even with debutants Nimbus Cloud (Krisna Thangamani) and Star Express (Louis-Philippe Beuzelin) three abreast for most of the way.
With the other fancies like Diaz (Manoel Nunes) and Tantheman (Wong Chin Chuen) not making their presence felt in the straight, it was left to the leading trio to fill the trifecta.
Italian Revolution strolled in virtually uncontested with 2¼ lengths to spare from Nimbus Cloud. Star Express stuck on for third, another ½-length away.
The winning time was 1min 11.03sec for the 1,200m on the long course.
Duric was right on the money again on the Stephen Gray-trained Prioritize ($16) in the $30,000 Class 5 race over the Poly 1,700m, for a riding double from only four rides.
Baertschiger was incidentally opening his account for 2023, aptly with a new charge shedding his maiden status for a loyal customer of his.
“MA Racing is my biggest supporter. It’s good to get a winner for them early,” said Baertschiger, who has trained Group winners Bestothelign, Faaltless and Nepean for the local outfit.
“I got this horse as a yearling for only A$70,000 ($65,300) in Melbourne. I think he’s won over $80,000 now, so he’s paid for himself, and whatever he does from now on is a bonus.”
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