The Epsom Handicap form has come the fore in the Cantala Stakes at Flemington with Le Romain giving Hugh Bowman his second Group One win for the day.
The Kris Lees-trained Le Romain came into Saturday’s $1 million race after a last-start fifth in the Epsom Handicap in Sydney in which he had to cart the field up to the leader which told at the finish.
But with a better run in Saturday’s 1600m race, three-wide with cover, this year’s Randwick Guineas winner Le Romain ($15) hit the front at the 300m and had a length to spare on the line over the luckless McCreery ($21).
McCreery was held up in the straight before flashing home along the fence to finish a short-head in front of the Mike Moroney-trained Tivaci ($41).
Bowman had earlier steered the Mick Price-trained colt Flying Artie to a dominant win in the Group One Coolmore Stud Stakes (1200m) and said he went into the Cantala Stakes with confidence in Le Romain.
“He ran a hell of a race in the Epsom and the more I looked at it, the more I thought that was good enough form for this,” Bowman said.
“And it proved to be right.”
Le Romain’s victory was the gelding’s second at Group One level after his Randwick Guineas success in March, where he also started at double figure odds.
“He’s been underestimated for quite a while but not by the stable,” Lees said.
“We’ve always had a high opinion of him and he was really good in the Epsom. He had to take the field up to the tearaway leader. The four weeks between runs really helped him get over that hard run.
“I went into the race really confident he would run well and he got the right breaks and was able to get there.”
Lees has Lucia Valentina heading to next Saturday’s $2 million Emirates Stakes (2000m) at Flemington and said he would consider whether to also run Le Romain.
“I wouldn’t rule it out,” Lees said.
“We’ll consider it, but they’re not decisions for today.”