Zoltan, ridden by Linda Meech (Image: Racing Photos)
Linda Meech once again proved the shortest way home is often the best when landing a sizeable betting plunge board Zoltan at The Valley
As the field in the $130,000 Ascend Trophies Handicap (1600m) approached the 600-metre mark, a big space had been left on the inside with many jockeys fearing it could be inferior ground due to the Friday night rain and the recent traffic on the track.
But Meech thought otherwise. Back behind a wall of horses at that stage, she simply moved the four-year-old to the left and by the home turn had made her way to the front before Zoltan pulled clear in the home straight.
“I spoke to connections and they were worried about the fence," Meech said after the race. "At the end of the day it might be off but I was pretty happy to stay there.
“You have to wait when there’s horses in front of you and outside of you. You just have to be patient. They all rolled off and I was happy to go inside them. At the moment I think the inside is OK.
“He was good. He’s race-fit. He’s going along really well and full credit to Symon (Wilde)."
WATCH: Zoltan wins at The Valley
Zoltan was backed in from an opening quote of $4.40 to run the $3.70 favourite and on the line, the former Kiwi had a two-length margin on Musswellbrook ($6.50) with Guizot ($6) a neck away third. The early favourite Stay Gold eased dramatically from $2.60 to $4.20 by race time before finishing fourth.
Wilde’s racing manager Ben Casanelia said Meech’s move had made the difference.
“I think she (Meech) had a whistle about halfway, blew it and away she went," he said.
“We knew he’d run well. He hasn’t missed a beat since coming to the stable and his form behind Tuvalu, I think that’s going to be pretty good form.
“He got in well, we thought it was a good race for him. With the way the race panned out, Linda rode him a treat.”