Essington Is Brisbane’s Gain & Grafton’s Pain

It seemed a done deal that newly crowned Rockhampton Newmarket champion Essington would be heading to Grafton for the Ramornie Handicap but that plan has now been shelved.

Trainer Darryl Hansen has instead decided to stick closer to home and he’ll race at Eagle Farm in the Ascot Handicap on Saturday.

Travel was in the end the major factor for Hansen fearing the trip from central Queensland into New South Wales would prove too much of an ask.

There’s no doubt he was very impressive last start, the four-year-old cruising over the 1200m to score a convincing win.

“He travelled well to Rocky but he had a tough run to win in record time when he carried 59 kilograms,” Hansen said.

“It was his first run since March and it could take a lot out of him if I took him to Grafton.”

He’ll try and push the horse out a bit from the sprint distance in his next couple of runs, Hansen keen to open up a wider variety of race option later in the year.

“I only want to give him a couple of runs this campaign before I give him a short break,” Hansen said.

“I might take him away for the spring when he comes back into work next time but I’m not sure if it will be in Sydney or Melbourne.

“At this stage I’m playing it by ear until I see how he goes in his next couple of runs.

“He’s won over 1500 metres at Eagle Farm but I’d like to see him over a mile (1600m) before I look at his spring options.”

Many were surprised to find a horse of his calibre running up at Rockhampton and Hansen agrees it wasn’t his first option.

He had instead wanted to run in the Listed Glasshouse Handicap at his home track on the Sunshine Coast but he was swayed by the connections.

Part owner Merino Katsanevas had the Rockhampton Newmarket firmly on his to-do-list in the racing world after he fell just short of winning it half way through last decade.

“I was going to get him ready for the Glasshouse but Merino wanted to win the Rocky Newmarket after he ran second in it with Iron Jug a few years ago,” Hansen said.

The painting contractor based in Townsville took a big gamble when he bought Essington for $50,000 as a tried racehorse.

He was formerly based in Melbourne where he had shown nothing but it’s turned out to be a gamble that’s payed off.

Essington has won eight from 12 starts for Hansen and has already mustered $250,000 in prize money.

Top Queensland jockey Chris Munce can certainly see the potential, he made the trip north to grab his sixth win in partnership with the horse and he’ll be aboard again at Eagle Farm.

He may well be the horse who can put Hansen on the made nationally.

He has been the top trainer in Townsville and Mackay and he now has access to much greater exposure form his Caloundra base.

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