A remarkable ride has seen Zac Spain win his first career Group 1 aboard Streets Of Avalon in the Neds C.F. Orr Stakes at Caulfield.
The son of Magnus became the fourth horse since Black Caviar to win the Orr after taking out the Group 2 Australia Stakes at Moonee Valley two weeks ago, largely thanks to some fantastic race tactics from the 24-year-old hoop.
After Sovereign Award took up the lead, Spain chose to sit patiently in the box-seat before producing Streets Of Avalon down the straight in a tooth and nail battle against the fast-finishing Imaging over the final stages.
With race fitness on his side, Spain’s ride eventually won out as the pair kicked home to win by half a length, securing the six-year-old a second Group 1 win after winning the Futurity over the same track and trip last year.
The win was also Shane Nichols’ third Group 1. While the winning trainer wasn’t sure early on, he wasn’t surprised by how well his horse finished off.
“When Imaging came to him I thought we were in a bit of strife, but he just came again, he found and was holding the other horse on the line, it was a remarkable performance from a tough horse,” Nichols told racing.com.
“When he has to really dig to find the line, and obviously we had that run under the belt which helped him today, but gee I’m in just admiration of this horse, he’s a warrior. For a horse that’s had as many runs as he has, to still be up winning Group 1’s is a remarkable performance.”
Spain also spoke of Street Of Avalon’s fitness, which ultimately proved the difference with favourite Sir Dragonet, Imaging and Crosshaven first-up from a spell.
“I think he (Imaging) headed me, but he’s just tough as nails and rock hard fit, it just shows how good of a trainer Shane is. Just giving the spot on, it’s just fantastic,” Spain said.
Imaging looked the likely winner charging down the middle of the straight but appeared to have spent too much after overcoming a three-wide position earlier on.
Sir Dragonet, meanwhile, was never close after finding himself seven lengths off the leaders rounding the turn.
Crosshaven turned in an eye-catching effort for third after settling fourth off the fence.
His unbeaten second-up record will likely see him start at short odds if he heads to the Australian Guineas over the mile at Flemington on February 27.
Humidor also ran another bold race just missing out on the money for fourth.