Image: Reg Ryan
Clinton MacDonald has his eyes firmly set on the Oakley Plate after Star Patrol made a triumphant return at Sandown.
Star Patrol recorded his first win at ‘stakes level’ on Thursday when he took out the Listed WJ Adams Stakes (1000m).
Next on the agenda for Star Patrol are the Group 1 Oakley Plate (1100m) at Sandown on 25 February and the Group 1 Newmarket Handicap (1200m) at Flemington two weeks later.
Sent off the $3 favorite under Ben Melham, Star Patrol set the pace before recording a 1-¾ length win from On The Lead ($4) by half a length behind dead-heaters Dragonstone ($4.80) and Starry Legend ($15). A terrible explosion was shown. distant third.
Star Patrol has now won four of his 12 starts and McDonald said the gelding is now starting to become a racehorse.
“Coming around the turn I was pretty confident and once Ben balanced him and gave him one on the back, he really ripped,” McDonald said.
“We’ve got big goals going into this campaign. He should land on the Oakley Plate without any weight and that should be a big plus.
“I can take him to the beach for a week, dive here and there for another week, then give him a gallop or two and he’ll be right.”
McDonald said he was surprised to see Starry Legend, a well-known leader, back in the pack, but was equally impressed with how Star Patrol settled into the run.
Melham said that MacDonald made the right decision to leave Star Patrol’s final preparations without starting the gelding.
“Clinton cut her out at the beginning of her last run when she wasn’t happy with her,” Melham said.
He said, ‘This is his thinking and it may help him a little to get out of the trip.
“He is a big sprinter horse with a big action on him and he is a bit more relaxed this time around.
“He wanted to end it and did with last time, but he gives himself a chance to end it.”
Unfortunately for Melham, the jockey will likely have to ride Star Patrol in the Oakley Plate as he struggles to ride under 55kg.
*Existing customers only. Second racing bet. Except SA and WA. T’s and C’s apply. Gambling responsibly.