Gai Waterhouse has claimed a third VRC St Leger in six years after aptly named Runaway led throughout in the staying feature at Flemington.
Once one of Australia’s premier races with Phar Lap and Tulloch listed amongst its 160 winners, the race for three-year-olds has suffered in status in over the years.
It was eventually downgraded to Listed level in 2006.
With Stephen Baster in the saddle, Runaway ($7.50) scored in Wednesday’s 2800m race by 1-1/2 lengths from Rezealient ($9) with Wolfe Tone ($14) a half-neck away third.
Waterhouse scored with Hippopus in 2013 and Order Of The Sun the following year and was joined by co-trainer Adrian Bott in Runaway’s success.
“It’s a wonderful race,” Waterhouse said.
“Keep it for three-year-olds only, increase the prize money and increase the starters.
“This is the stepping stone you need into the Melbourne Cup and that’s the race we all think about.
“The St Leger is a time-honoured race all around the world, particularly in England and Australia.
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“I love it. It’s a great staying test for young horses.”
With a black type win now on his record, Waterhouse will now consider trips interstate with the colt.
She’s got next month’s South Australian Derby at Morphettville and the Queensland Derby at Doomben in June as options.
“Three starts ago we were going to send him out and geld him,” Waterhouse said.
“He must have heard that and he hasn’t stopped going forward from that.
“I’ll speak to connections and see what they’ve got in mind.”
Baster said Runaway can be an awkward ride and the stable made the right move in taking blinkers off the three-year-old following his last start win at Geelong but noted he needs to learn to settle earlier in his races.
“He came out of the barriers like he was only going down the Flemington straight on the one occasion,” Baster said.
“I was a bit concerned but eventually the others dropped off and when he got around to the mile he pricked his ears, relaxed and got into a nice rhythm.
“Once he did that he was going to be hard to beat, but he does worry you in the first half of the race.’