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Winning starts for Goldolphin pair

As Godolphin’s Sydney Cup contenders Penglai Pavilion and Polarisation acclimatise after arriving from Dubai, two potential stars of its Australian operation made successful starts to their careers at Warwick Farm.

A low-key midweek meeting is no comparison to The Championships at Randwick next month, but trainer John O’Shea was satisfied after watching pre-race favourites Almanzora and Astoria justify their billing in the first two races on Wednesday.

Almanzora claimed the Hinchinbrook@Yarraman Park Handicap (1100m) by 1-1/2 lengths to make the perfect start to a career delayed by illness.

“I’d have loved to have her up and going a little earlier but she just got very ill last preparation which put us back a touch,” O’Shea said.

“From day one she’s had her hand right up, she’s probably one of our top fillies. It’s just been nice we’ve been able to get her here and get her on the board.”

O’Shea said the two-year-old was targeting the Group Two Percy Sykes Stakes (1200m) at Randwick on April 8 and would have a yet to be determined race to round out those preparations.

Jockey Brenton Avdulla was confident Almanzora ($2.25) could handle the step up in class.

“She’s quite relaxed for a little filly and quite powerful too,” he said. “She’ll make the grade. She’s a progressive filly that’ll keep improving.”

Almanzora headed Aqua D’ivina on the heavy track while Sectioned was 1-3/4 lengths further back in third.

O’Shea was also delighted with two-year-old colt Astoria ($3.50) after he won the So You Think@Coolmore Handicap (1100m) by 3-1/2 lengths from Catmosphere.

“We’ve taken a little bit of time to get him furnished into his big body. He’s got a long way to go but it was a nice start,” O’Shea said.

“We’re hoping he’s our (Caulfield) Guineas horse in the spring. He’s got a long way to go obviously but he’s a horse of immense quality.”

The Group Three Baillieu Handicap at Rosehill on March 25 is Astoria’s next assignment.

“It’s a big transition from 1100 metres to 1400 metres but he’s got a pedigree (Medaglia D’Oro/Seque) that says further will help him,” O’Shea said.

“At this time of year his capacity to get through the ground is also helpful.”

Stella Victoria was third, half a head behind Catmosphere.

The second placegetters from both races were trained by Matthew Smith.

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