Churchill Dancer has produced a barnstorming effort to post a career-best win to date at Flemington this afternoon; beating a particularly handy field to the line in the Group 2 Bobbie Lewis Quality (1200m).
Jumping from the gates well, jockey Michael Dee allowed Churchill Dancer to stride forward and take a position just off the speed generated by early leaders Rich Enuff, Sterling City and Gregers; settling into a good rhythm and receiving a good run in transit.
Steadily building towards his final effort with 500m to run, the Churchill Downs gelding locked in a fierce sprint battle his stable mate Gregers; managing to pull a head clear and sustaining a strong-enough sprint to hold off a late charge from Group 1 performer Under The Louvre.
Trainers David Hayes and Tom Dabernig confirmed Dee for the ride on Churchill Dancer in the Bobbie Lewis Quality, and the up-and-coming apprentice proved he was by no means out of his depth with the perfectly-timed ride.
“It’s a huge thrill and couldn’t thank David Hayes and Tom Dabernig enough for giving me the opportunity,” Dee said after the race.
“He travelled really well just in behind the speed.
“Our plan worked out exactly as we wanted – we were there really to pounce at the 400m and he fought to the line very well.
“At the 300m I thought he was just going to run a nice place, but he just tried so hard all the way to the line.”
David Hayes was thrilled with the performance mustered by both Churchill Dancer and Michael Dee for success in the Bobbie Lewis Quality, and revealed the sprinter will be set on a path through the Group 2 Gilgai Stakes (1200m) before completing his season in the Group 2 Salinger Stakes (1200m) on October 31st.
“Really considering the pressure he was under at the 500m, to keep battling away like that and to run down a filly who was cruising like Gregers, it was a huge effort,” Hayes said.
“He is a very good straight horse so I think we’ll put him on the straight horse circuit, the 1200m up the straight and then Derby Day there’s that lovely race.
“He did surprise me when the mare took him off the bit so far from home, but he really dug in well.”
With success in the 2015 Bobbie Lewis Quality, Churchill Dancer as extended his record to five wins and eleven minors through 27 career starts.