Redemption for Britannicus at Warrnambool

Britannicus has wiped away the disappointment of defeat for his connections in the Brierly Steeplechase to claim a thrilling win at Warrnambool 12 months later.

A brave ride by Aaron Kuru saw Britannicus cut the corner at second of the Tozer Road obstacles that brings the field back onto the course proper to take up the lead from the early pacemaker Flying Agent in Tuesday’s Brierly Steeplechase (3450m).

With the jumping complete, Britannicus ($5.50) headed to the inside while the $3 favourite Flying Agent went out wide with Valac ($5.50) to stage their challenges, but Britannicus held firm to score by 1-¾ lengths.

Last year Britannicus threw away potential victory at the Tozer Road double when he handed up a healthy lead, but that corner proved decisive on Tuesday.

Trainer Symon Wilde, who earlier in the day provided the trifecta in the Cally Hotel Maiden, said Britannicus has been set for Tuesday’s race after last year’s defeat despite winning the Australian Steeplechase at Sandown last May, 19 days after the Brierly defeat.

“Last year he was terribly unlucky, when he ran out and mucked up the corner,” Wilde said.

“So, we set him for this race straight after.

“He’s a dead-set Brierly horse. We’ve been able to get him to relax a bit better and funnily enough Will Gordon rode him in a trial here and settled him beautifully.

“But Will was already committed and Aaron does a lot of trialling for me.

“That was a good, brave ride. There wasn’t a lot of room on the corner. I think that won him the race.

“I get so much enjoyment out of jumps racing. I just love it and I thought it was a great spectacle.


Kuru, who hails from New Zealand, said the Brierly Steeplechase has a long history, adding it was a privilege to be riding at Warrnambool.

He said it was a bittersweet moment for the stable after running second last year, adding that Britannicus was brave at the Tozer Road.

“He was probably just a bit too brave there, but Lee (Horner on Flying Agent) was taking me off my line and that’s not where I wanted to be,” Kuru said.

“I knew I had the horse to muster if I switched back, but Lee’s horse come up to out-jump me and luckily I was on a horse of his experience to get me out of that.

“From then on home it was a matter of maintaining the gallop to the line and digging in for the fight.”

There was a sad postscript with the Paul Preusker-trained St Arnicca humanely euthanised following an injury sustained when falling after completing the second-last jump while his rider Tom Ryan was cleared of any injuries.

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