Daqiansweet Junior just edges out In A Twinkling at The Valley

Stokes’ sweet Junior gunning for five straight in Torney Night Cup

By Ben Caluzzi

If ‘knowing where the winning post is’ could be summed up in one particular horse right now, that horse would be the Phillip Stokes trained Daqiansweet Junior.

The son of Sweet Orange has won his last four starts by an aggregate margin of just half a length, three times winning by a 0.1L margin and a narrow 0.2L victor on the other occasion and continues to impress in his short time here in Australia.

“Super. He only just got there but he only ever just gets there,” Stokes said of his latest victory here at The Valley.

“He seems to know where the winning post is and goes very well at The Valley so I’m looking forward to having him back there on Friday.”

The New Zealand import first tasted success down under in a Benchmark 64 at his home track Pakenham on 25 November. He has since risen through the grades in fine style, picking off wins at Benchmark 70 level, Benchmark 84 level and then winning a Benchmark 100 race last start.

He has also now won twice here at The Valley at 2040 metres and 2500 metres, and that will bode well for him as he steps out as one of the favoured runners in this week’s Listed Measure Consulting Engineers Torney Night Cup.

Originally planning to send him to Tasmania for last weekend’s Hobart Cup, Stokes says the lure of a similar race worth $200,000 in his own backyard this week was a far more attractive option when weighing up the two.

“It all just got a bit too hard. We had to send him over on the ferry and we would’ve had to have been there a week before.

“We couldn’t catch flights, so we thought for the same money and also a Listed race it was the better option.”

In A Twinkling, the latest runner to taste agonizing defeat at the hands of Daqiansweet Junior started favourite in last Sunday’s Hobart Cup and ran a game second placing – further enhancing the strength of his form.

“It gives us good confidence. I’m not sure of the depth of the Hobart Cup, but that’s where this horse is.

“It’s a Listed race so it’s the progression for him and hopefully he can go from this to a Group race.”

Daqiansweet Junior has already been ridden by five different jockeys in just seven starts since crossing the Tasman, and Jamie Kah was the latest beneficiary winning the Mirasan.com Handicap.

The reigning Victorian Metropolitan Premiership winner will retain the ride in this week’s Measure Consulting Engineers Torney Night Cup, and despite a sensational ride from the tail of the field last start she says she will be all the better for the experience this week.

“I still think I probably got to the front too soon,” Kah said in her post-race interview.

“I think if I rode him again, I’d wait another 100 metres on him.”

“It was still a really good win, but now I’ve learnt a bit more about him I’d probably ride him a bit differently.”

Daqiansweet Junior faced just a field of seven last start and will tackle light numbers again this Friday, but Stokes admits that may not be to his strong suit with the gelding better equipped to a fast tempo.

Despite that, his will to win is an unquantifiable trait and one that will continue to stand him in good stead as he tackles black-type racing for the first time in Australia.

Phillip Stokes says that ability to find under pressure has quickly become his number one strength, and the four-time South Australian State Trainer Premiership winner couldn’t have spoken more highly of him going into Friday.

“He loves finding that winning post. The riders say you just have to time your run right and he’ll get the job done.

“He’s a real stable favourite. He’s got a lovely attitude and just a pleasure to have around.”

Another good performance on Friday night will go a long way to the four-year-old pressing onto the Group 2 Adelaide Cup on 14 March, with Stokes searching for back-to-back Cups after victory with Good Idea in 2021.