Of The Brave just held up enough to win the Group 3 Blue Diamond Prelude (1100m) for colts and geldings at Caulfield on Saturday, yet trainer Mark Riley is confident he’ll be a serious contender in the Group 1 Blue Diamond Stakes (1200m) on February 28.
It was the first race for the two-year-old colt since he won the Listed Inglis Debutant Stakes (1000m) back in October. This freshness is what Riley is putting the vulnerable run down to.
Of The Brave was raced a bit keenly outside the leader by hoop Stephen Baster before he went to front on the turn for home and grabbed a clear break with 200 metres to go. The colt tired after his early efforts but just had enough to last on the line in a photo finish.
Despite running almost one second slower than Fontiton, who won the fillies’ prelude in the race prior, Riley insists Of The Brave can only get better before the 2015 Blue Diamond Stakes in two weeks.
“He was very vulnerable and they went very hard. He’s done it all the way,” Riley said.
“If he was going to get beaten then today was the day. He’ll take really good improvement from it and he’s a horse that is just going to keep improving.
“I told Stephen that he needed a really good hard run going into the Diamond and this will top him up nicely.”
Of The Brave was the $3.60 favourite in the Blue Diamond Prelude betting at Ladbrokes.com.au, justifying the support from punters to just hold on at the line, winning a short half-head in front of Pride Of Dubai ($4.80) with Sampeah ($6.50) a further two and three-quarter lengths away in third.
Baster admitted the colt over raced early after he didn’t begin as he envisaged. However the hoop was impressed at the colt’s ability to win despite doing so much wrong.
“I had to give him a dig and it got him over-racing,” Baster said.
“He didn’t want to come back under me, he thought it was time to go flat out.
“After doing so much wrong he did a really good job to hold them off.”
Of The Brave is a $7 hopeful in the Blue Diamond Stakes futures betting at Ladbrokes.com.au although runner-up Pride Of Dubai is at better odds ($5.50) despite not even being nominated for the race at this stage.
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