Trainer Steve Tregea admitted he had one of the most stressful weeks of his career before Niccanova stayed on a Doncaster Mile campaign course with an impressive Doomben win.
Niccanova, the $2.15 favourite, was having his first run in nine months but was too strong for Fortensky ($2.80) winning by 3/4 length in the Hamilton Hotel Handicap (1350m).
Tregea now has the choice of pushing on for a start in the Group One Doncaster at Randwick next month or throttling back slightly and waiting for the Brisbane winter carnival.
“That was a relief. I have had a bit of stress this week. He is a very smart horse but he hadn’t raced in a long time, the track was wet and there were a few other things,” Tregea said.
“But he has come through that and it is now a case of onwards and upwards.”
“The Doncaster is obviously a very hard race to win but you have got to have a plan.”
Tregea has knocked back several big offers for Niccanova who has now won five of his seven starts including in the Group Three Fred Best Classic.
“I am happy to keep racing him myself. He is a lovely horse and you don’t get them often,” he said.
“Not much worries him and I told Michael (jockey Murphy) to ride him like an old steeplechaser and just let him lope along. Michael did exactly that.”
Murphy, who completed a winning double, said Niccanova would be improved for the run and had got through the ground well.
Stable foreman Paul Shailer was happy with Fortensky’s second and said his horse had run into an extra smart gelding.
Trainer Chris Munce had a rare day off from the races and missed the win of his tough gelding Constantine ($11).
Munce’s son Corey deputised at Doomben and said Constantine had relished the soft track and the step up to 1600m.
“Dad has been working very hard of late and we decided a day at home would do him no harm,” Corey said.