A HIT-OUT in Sydney is seemingly next on Lunar Shoes' agenda after the Tim Donnelly-trained runner gave his rivals a galloping lesson in Friday's Lamont Classic (1300m) at Wagga.
Coming off a promising third racing on pace at Albury in his second career start a fortnight ago, Lunar Shoes jumped superbly from barrier eight to take the lead, and held off Scott Spackman's Smokin' Cod to ensure Wagga trainers claimed the quinella in the two-year-old handicap feature.
On a Heavy10 track, race experience eventually proved the difference for Lunar Shoes and Smokin' Cod, who had both previously raced against older horses.
Jockey Kayla Nisbet got Lunar Shoes to settle nicely in front, and was too strong to win by half a length.
"He relaxed in front and maybe star gazed a little bit, but I think the race experience was the thing that won him the race," Donnelly said.
"Both those horses have had a couple of runs, and ran well both times. Getting through a heavy track makes it difficult for the first starters in the race as well.
"He didn't jump well at Wagga first start (fourth of 13 on May 5), then jumped him out with blinkers on at Albury, ran without blinkers in the race there and then put them back on today.
"We might take him to town actually, we're going into town with Miss Kirribilli in a fortnight so we'll probably take him as well for the two year old race. It's over 1400 and that shouldn't worry him."
Canberra trainer Matt Dale enjoyed a superb start to the meeting by claiming the first two races.
Heavy favourite Tavifern ($1.65) survived a protest after wandering about in the straight before retaining a two length win over Sleigh's Belle ($7) in the Maiden Plate (1600m).
Toulon Brook ($13) later proved he still has some strong racing left after needing every inch of the straight to run down Donna Scott's $2.15 favourite Gusonic right on the post in the Benchmark 74 Handicap (1400m).
The six-year-old was coming off a nine week let-up after three runs for Dale last preparation after transferring from Dubbo trainer Kody Nestor.
He also hadn't won in a year, but jockey Jeff Penza settled him nicely one out and one back, before he launched a strong run to reel in his rival.
Donnelly's Dolphina finished over seven lengths behind in third.
Dale said it's always nerve wracking to see if older horses still have the desire to race after a long let-up, but was rapt with the display.
"He hasn't won for a while and he's been a bit hit and miss, he's gone in and out of form a bit," Dale said.
"He's also had a couple of niggling issues, but we've been targeting those the last couple of weeks and we came here today thinking he could run an improved race.
"But with those older geldings you've still got to see it. He got in for the fight today and that's a good effort because they beat the rest by seven (lengths) and a duel with the favourite indicates he's back in form.
"His track work, he'd shown a bit more zest the last few weeks and he still needed to take that to the races, I'm pleased that he did.
"The horse outside the leader didn't take him anywhere so he had to come out early and make a sustained run, it was a good effort."
Spackman also secured a win with $11 hope Fil in the Three-Year-Old and Up Maiden Plate (1300m), a blow out for punters with fellow outsiders Flying Gem ($26) and White Foot ($41) filling the placings.
Penza won a second race for the day on Nick Olive runner Mohahna ($4.80f), who backed up a last-start second in Canberra to salute in the Benchmark 58 Handicap (2000m).
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