Group race targets await TAVISAN after the Mick Price and Michael Kent Junior trained runner returned to action with victory at Sandown-Hillside on Wednesday afternoon.
Previously placed at Group Two level the gelding owned by Phoenix Thoroughbreds and partners was having his first competitive start since February when he lined-up for the BenchMark 78 over 1000m, but following two impressive trials, he was sent off among the market leaders.
As is customary with this rising four-year-old he was quick off the mark as the gates opened with jockey Ben Melham was able to guide his partner into a lead and grab the rail as the field sorted themselves out. Despite over racing in the early stages Melham was able to settle his mount into a nice pace out in front with Tavisan travelling powerfully. Entering the home straight, with Melham still motionless, the other jockey’s began to send out distress signals, and it became clear that as long as he picked up the gelding would take the spoils. Pick up he did to win by a length, ears pricked, perhaps suggesting there was plenty left in the tank.
Kent Junior was on hand to saddle the winner and had been very confident of a positive outcome pre-race.
“That’s what we expected today,” was the co-trainers reaction post-race. “He’s been going well at home and been lovely and sound.
“He was over striding a bit early, but Ben did well to rein him in, and he was nice and strong late, so we’re really thrilled.
“We need to give a big shout to Ash who strapped the horse today, she rides the horse every day and has done a great done with him along with the team at home, while Mick has placed him really well today.”
Having got the job done in this race, the question now moves to the future for this horse. He has shown plenty of class earlier in his career with placings in both Group Two and Three races, and it would seem connections are keen to test him on that stage again with Kent Junior suggesting:
“The plan is to look at stepping him up in class now so there’s the Bletchingly over 1200m or the Lightning in Adelaide over 1050m so we’ll get through this week and make a plan.”
Ben Melham deserves extra credit for his part in the victory after the jockey went back out to re-walk the course to make sure of finding the best position to race in very windy conditions.
“It’s tough out there its a tailwind down the straight, so I wasn’t too concerned about that,” explained the rider. “I think out wide on the track has had its time now as well, so I had another look at the track after race six, and I thought three off the rail was the place to be at this stage of the day, and it worked in his favour.
“He’s a nice horse, travelled well in front and let down well. He’s a bit well, so he’s got good improvement left, and he should have a bright future.
“He’s a very quick horse, very quick from the gates with good tactical speed. To me, he feels like a sprinter, although his breeding might tell you otherwise. He’s got a good advantage he gain from early on in the race and put himself in a good spot, travel well, and he’s got good ability to finish the race off.”