Dubbo trainer Clint Lundholm will turn his attention to the Country Championship’s western qualifier on his home track on March 25 after Sprezzatura produced a stirring outside run to win on Sunday.
Breaking his maiden in the $40,000 Club Mudgee Country Maiden Showcase Handicap (1400m), Sprezzatura bucked the meeting’s trend of rail winners with a blazing late run mid-track to usurp Destiny Is Written at the post as rain continued to fall at the Mudgee Race Club.
Carrying big weight, handling the expectation of being the $1.85 favourite and producing on the line, Lundholm says his bay gelding displayed the sort of ride that will suit the championship heat at Dubbo in a little under a month.
“That was always the plan (the country championship), he’s just always ran into a horse better than him,” Lundholm said.
“He’s won his maiden and his benchmark will be there now. He’ll be in it for sure.”
The eventual winner didn’t jump well at all, working his way back to third last in the 12-horse, $40,000 showcase field.
The best of the early bunch appeared to be Neil Smart’s Princess Strata ($101) while, after a great jump from barrier 11, Peter Stanley’s Destiny Is Written ($7.50) slipping back to fourth by the 900m mark.
Into the straight $201-hope Miss Goya had punters in a flap when she hit the lead but it was short lived when Princess Strata reemerged.
But all eyes quickly turned to Summer Surf ($18), Ticket To Kentucky ($20) and Lundholm’s gelding mid-track in the final furlong.
Sprezzatura emerged the best of the charging field, striding out to claim a half-length win over Summer Surf and Destiny Is Written.
Lundholm admits to being a touch nervous about the four-year-old’s form leading into the race.
“I’m always worried, he’s a bugger to get beat but he’s put the goods together today,” he said.
“We’ve had no luck with him, he’s a horse that races to the front and then stops and the other horsrs come back and beat him.
“Today the plan was to sit back where he was comfortable and Greg knew when to produce him and get him to hit the line.
“It gives you great confidence going into a race when you’ve got Greg Ryan riding your horses, he’s such a great man and such a great rider and has been for a long time.”