Blue Soldier rediscovers European form at Hawkesbury

Sent around as the outsider of the Ladies Day Cup field, Blue Soldier has rediscovered his European form, lifting himself off the canvas to post an upset win over favourite Wheelhouse.

A Listed winner in Ireland and twice Group placed, the five-year-old had failed to fire in his two first local runs for Annabel Neasham and again at his debut for new trainer David Payne last start.

But the combination of a gear change, wet track and well-judged frontrunning ride by Jean Van Overmeire has helped him turn his form around in the Hawkesbury feature.

Van Overmeire picked up the mount following an injury to Alysha Collett but was armed with a good knowledge of the horse after partnering him at his previous start.

He said Payne’s decision to take the blinkers off was a masterstroke and Blue Soldier appreciated getting his own way in front in Thursday’s 1600 metre Listed race.

“He’s a beautiful horse to ride. Obviously, David has got him now, he took the blinkers off and that might just have made the difference today,” Van Overmeire told Sky Thoroughbred Central.

“He absolutely loved the wet track. He really enjoys having his head in front and just bowling along at his own tempo.

“That could have been why we didn’t see the best of him last start, just because we had to follow one and I think he just enjoys his own speed and quickening off that.”

Blue Soldier ($26) made the running on the deteriorating track but favourite Wheelhouse ($2.35 fav) appeared to have his measure when he ranged up on the inside and looked to poke his nose in front.

However, Blue Soldier wouldn’t give in, kicking back strongly to regain the lead and score by a long head.

The pair gapped their rivals with Looks Like Elvis ($9) another 3-1/2 lengths away in third.

“I was probably beaten once or twice down the straight but credit to him, credit to David he kept fighting,” Van Overmeire said.

Having his first Australian start, Tulloch Lodge import Grove Ferry was heavily backed to start a $3.80 second pick but after over-racing midfield, he dropped out to finish last.

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