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Fille Champagne scores tough Sandown win

Trainer Pat Hyland will set his sights higher with improving filly Fille Champagne after her fighting win at Sandown.

Fille Champagne had to do it the tough way after a bumping duel with Lovani in the early stages of Saturday’s Blue Star Group Handicap.

Apprentice Beau Mertens didn’t panic aboard the three-year-old and tracked the Damien Oliver-ridden Lovani to sit second as the field swung for home.

After taking over the lead aboard the $2.80 favourite early in the straight, Mertens drove Fille Champagne home a winner by a head from Invictum Domina ($3.80) with Macattack ($21) a short-half-head away third.

Hyland fears Fille Champagne may get weighted out of similar class fillies races and he will now aim her higher.

Fille Champagne was a $260,000 yearling and Hyland would like to get some black type for the filly during this campaign and is reluctant to send the mare for a break while she is in form.

“She’s a pretty handy filly I think,” Hyland said.

“I don’t know what sort of races will be around for her now but it’s not much good turning her out.

“I’ll have a couple of beers and work something out.”

Mertens said the win was strong after some rough moments early.

“Ollie’s was over-racing and bumped her a couple of times,” Mertens said.

“I think him going forward worked out best for us.

“That showed she’s a tough filly.”

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