In a dominant front running display Tavistock gelding Tavisan landed his second win in three starts with victory at Moonee Valley on Saturday.
The horse owned by Phoenix Thoroughbreds and partners was the subject of substantial market support before the off and those that placed their faith, and indeed their hard-earned money in him, never had a moment’s worry.
Showing his customary sharp speed from the gates, the Mick Price trainee bounced into an early advantage. Happy for his mount to make the running jockey Ben Melham allowed his partner to set what looked like some pretty ordinary fractions in the first part of the 1200m contest. Travelling well within himself Tavisan always looked comfortable in the lead and while the other riders started to send out distress signals on the turn for home Melham remained statuesque in the saddle. Only asked for a bit of an effort with 150m to go Tavisan obliged his rider’s request and eased away from his rivals to win by two lengths.
“We didn’t want him getting into the habit of being too one dimensional,” explained the rider. “The other day (at Moonee Valley in his previous start) it might have been my error I just thought it was a good race to ride him a bit quieter. He relaxed ok and ran ok, but he’s quite adaptable now, so you don’t have to lead, you can put him where you want, but he’s certainly very effective leading.”
If Melham thought he got it wrong last time he definitely got the tactics spot on this time around and was left impressed with his partner’s performance.
“It was a promising run, it looked a good race on paper, and it was always going to map well,” continued Melham. “He can get going with some pretty quick sectionals this horse so applying pressure early suited him. I was able to hold him together and get a nice rhythm into the breeze down the back and saved him up; he’s won very well in the end.”
After getting run down in that defeat in his previous start, a few onlookers were expecting a change of approach, but trainer Mick Price was quick to praise his jockey for reading the race as well as he did.
“The last start we were in front and got run down,” recalled Price. “Melham said there’s nothing doing in this race today, I might even take it up. I was scratching my head a bit, but I said he’s thought a bit better about this race than I had and that’s exactly how it’s worked out. It was like a walk and a dash home.”
Despite good wins for Tavisan in benchmark 78 and 90 handicaps this preparation, Price is in no rush to step his charge back up in grade.
“He was ready to win last start,” explained the trainer. “but he just drew a gate and the way the race panned out for him he just had to work a bit. He’s in the zone now; he’s an 80 rated horses in a benchmark 90, and I think with this prize money it’s better for owners and a better return to just pick your way through the right races. Having said that there aren’t many benchmark 90s around, so he’s probably going in open handicaps and get down the weight a bit. We’ll place him to win and get a nice return on him.”