Cardinal Gem scores explosive win in the Victoria Handicap

Trainer Grahame Begg has eyes set on a Group 1 race in Brisbane with Cardinal Gem after his explosive win at Sandown.

The deteriorating Sandown track held no fears for the gelding who raced to a comprehensive win in the Group 3 Victoria Handicap (1400m) on Saturday.

Showers throughout Saturday downgraded the track from a Slow 5 to a Heavy 8 following the running of the Victoria Handicap, conditions favourable for Cardinal Gem.

A well-backed $3 favourite under Jordan Childs, Cardinal Gem raced to a 2-¼ length win from Frankie Pinot ($14) with Lady Of Honour ($11) a short-half-head away third.

Begg said the Group 1 Stradbroke Handicap (1400m) at Eagle Farm in June was the race he has in mind for Cardinal Gem, but first he must work out a program on how to get the gelding there.

“I’ve always liked him a lot and I reckon there’s a decent race in him,” Begg said.

“We know at home what he can do on the track, he’s got a great turn of foot, but he just needs things to work to his advantage.

“We picked this race out months ago, and said, ‘this is his race’ and it set him up beautifully today.

“His rating should go up and we’ll head to Brisbane.”

Begg said the Listed Anniversary Stakes (1400m) back at Sandown on April 29 was a possibility for Cardinal Gem ahead of a trip to Brisbane.

“We’ve just got to work that out,” Begg said.

“There’s another race in a few weeks’ time, it’s back here over 1400, so whether we go to that or whether we just back off slightly and organise our trip to Brisbane.

“But I think he deserves a shot at one of those big races.

“It’s a $3 million race that Stradbroke and I think he’ll be well-suited in it.”

Childs said maturity had been the best friend of Cardinal Gem.

He said early in the gelding’s career, Cardinal Gem would jump slowly and get into awkward spots.

“He’s a lot more professional, he jumps well, puts himself in good spots,” Childs said.

“He’s really tough, he’s got a good action and he just seems to find another length in wet ground.”

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