Sea Dragon digs deep to prove he's no pushover
Favourite backers were having an attack of the vapours, but jockey Douglas Whyte and trainer John Size admitted to be thoroughly pleased that plenty went wrong in the run for the day's shortest-priced favourite, Sea Dragon.
A firmer from 1.6 to 1.4 following smart wins at his only two prior starts, Sea Dragon looked the bank teller's special for the day and, in the final analysis, that's what he was as he scored by a comfortable 1-1/4 lengths.
But there was a lot more story between the beginning and the end than the result will reveal, with Whyte's arch- rival Zac Purton getting the unpredictable Affluence Of Rain to fly the gates like a bullet for a change.
On paper, Smart Kids looked the likely leader against the rail and so he was, but Affluence Of Rain, whose bad habits at the start sometimes see him beginning two or three lengths behind the field.
Purton had him from the machine like a startled rabbit, straight outside Smart Kids and making life difficult for the favourite by keeping Sea Dragon off the track three deep.
"He had a very tough run. I came out wanting to go forward but then Zac just wasn't going to let me cross and I've had to go back again after digging him to go forward," Whyte said. "It isn't easy to change plans in mid-race, but he was very good adapting to that, taking a second breath and then delivering in the straight again. I was only sorry I had to give him a smack - he had worked hard and was coming to the end of his run but I saw Secret Sham coming and so I had to keep my bloke going right to the line. Turning for home, you'd have been happy just to win the race at all, let alone by the clear margin he did."
Likewise, Size was pleased about the mental torment for favourite backers given what it said about Sea dragon.
"He has had things go pretty right for him in his first two starts, but it's nice to see what they are made of when they don't have all the favours through a race," Size said. "To go through that and still win is a good sign. The first day he ran, he won in good time and looked like a horse who might be going higher in the grades and so far he has delivered on that promise."