Experienced trainer Phillip Stokes has always had a healthy opinion of two-year filly Instant Celebrity.
Stokes had even mentioned the Group 1 Thousand Guineas over 1600m at Caulfield on October 10 as a realistic target, such is his extremely positive thoughts on her potential.
And Instant Celebrity used the Listed Oaklands Plate over 1400m at Morphettville on Saturday to justify the confidence of the stable, claiming a stunning victory which will all but seal a Victorian campaign.
Settling near the tail of the field from an awkward barrier and appearing to be unbalanced on the turn, Instant Celebrity produced a remarkable burst of speed entering the straight to charge to the lead and then hold off challengers The Brumby and Another Award.
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“Saturday was super,” assistant trainer Tommy Stokes said. “It did not work out (in running), but she was still too good.
“It was a super effort and a real credit to the team. I’ve got a really big opinion of this horse, although I was a bit worried.
“The preparation probably hasn’t worked out 100 per cent right. There was no lead up run, so we gave her a solid jump out between runs and made her work that day. I’m so happy it paid off.”
Instant Celebrity was having her second start, having also been impressive in winning at he debut last month, and Tommy said the Thousand Guineas was the likely plan.
“We will have to really look after her and make sure it happens,” he said.
The emphatic win was an impressive way for in-form jockey Kayla Crowther, who has already lost her apprentice claim, to secure her 100th win for the season. She had taken her tally to 99 with the winning ride on Territory Titan earlier on the program.
Instant Celebrity’s victory also gave Stokes a double, having won with Defiant Dancer over 1400m in the talented three-year old gelding’s final race before being spelled.
Tommy said Defiant Dancer’s track work on Tuesday “was just” and he believed he was on the way down this preparation.
“We will give him a spell and look after him,” Tommy said. “We will give him more like a late Spring, early Summer campaign and eventually he will go back to Melbourne and be competitive in Summer races there.”
MASSIVE BREAKTHROUGH FOR SA TRAINER
Bordertown trainer James Dodgson has described his first city triumph as a massive achievement, after Territory Titan secured a hat-trick of wins when successful over 1550m at Morphettville.
Dodgson has had a trainer’s licence for just four years and has been doing the role professionally for only two since moving from Kangaroo Island to pursue a career in racing.
“This is special, it really is a massive achievement for myself, because it is a hard industry to crack into,” Dodgson said. “I was really confident with Territory Titan, but you always need that extra ounce of luck.
“I’ll have a couple of beers to celebrate, nothing too much.
“It’s always nice to go home and watch the replay and have a beer.”
Dodgson, 33, was born on Kangaroo Island and worked as a shearer until breaking his back, while he was also a farrier for “quite a long time”.
Both sides of his family have had interests in racing, although no one had taken it seriously until Dodgson took the plunge and decided to become a trainer.
“It has all got to start somewhere,” he said.
“And you never stop learning in this game.”
Dodgson has only two horses in work, having scaled back his operations because of the COVID-19 outbreak.
Territory Titan had won at Naracoorte and Bordertown at his previous two starts.
Kayla Crowther was also in the saddle for those races and has now won all three of her rides on the four-year old gelding. Meanwhile, Murray Bridge trainer Sam Burford admitted Oh Mo was among the hardest horses he had trained after the gelding scored a well-deserved win over 1250m.
“This preparation he has come into his own, aged a bit and matured in the brain,” Burford said.
“He is one of the hardest horses I have trained, to be fair.
“Every time you think you have him right he throws a curve ball at you. This preparation I have been super proud of him.”