Antino races into 2024 Stradbroke Handicap favouritism

Vlad Duric made the most of a call-up ride to record his biggest win since making Queensland home, teaming with Antino to score a stunning win in Saturday’s $300,000 Group 2 Victory Stakes at Eagle Farm.

The Victorian native only took up residence in the Sunshine State after returning from Singapore at the end of March and was called on to replace Mark Zahra, who had to forgo the ride on the Tony Gollan-trained gelding in the 1200-metre event due to suspension.

Duric was made to earn his pay after Antonio was clearly last away and under hard riding before straightening, but the Caulfield Cup-winning jockey’s encouragement helped him explode in the straight and race to Stradbroke Handicap favouritism with betting apps.

“It was a massive win,” Duric said.

“All the plans that I thought I had in my head were out the gate; he was off the bridle the whole race and just couldn’t keep up.

“When I switched him to the inside he wasn’t brave, so I had to really give him a smack around the tail and from there I was pretty confident.

“There was a long way up the straight for him to build up and he was beautiful through the winning post.

“He’s in for a great prep.”

At his first start since finishing down the track in the Five Diamonds at Rosehill on November 11, Antino ($4.40) scored by a length from Wee Nessy ($8), who finished 1-3/4 lengths clear of third placegetter Golden Mile ($10).

Uncommon James, the easy $3.80 favourite, was part of an early speed battle, settled in prominent position and offered a short-lived challenge early in the straight before weakening over the final furlong to finish second-last, beaten more than 14 lengths.

“He makes really, really hard work of it, but I knew once they got inside the furlong they were never going to beat him,” Gollan said of Antino.

“He puts those ears back and he has a go. He’s a different beast. He’s not like any horse I’ve ever trained.”

Antino is likely go four weeks between runs into the $1 million Group 1 Kingsford Smith Cup (1300m) on June 1 before tackling the Stradbroke Handicap at Eagle Farm on June 15.

About RS NewsWire

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