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By Ben Looker with Graham Potter | Tuesday, June 11, 2019

There were plenty of big name trainers and riders involved in the Listed Hinkler Handicap at Eagle Farm on Saturday but all had to play second fiddle to Jenny Graham’s Port MacQuarie based raider Victorem whose acceleration and commitment over the final 150m under the joyful urgings of Ben Looker left nobody in doubt about as to who was the best horse in the race. Here Ben Looker talks to HRO’s Graham Potter about Victorem’s notable victory.

“We went into the race with the idea to ride him quiet again. Obviously in the Group 1 (The Kingsford-Smith) we tried to ride him handy but it never worked. He was trapped off the track and had to work hard. So, we went back to how we have always ridden him … which is quiet and conservative.

“This preparation all of his runs have been pretty good. He was unlucky at Scone where he ran the quickest last 800m and 600m of the day … that was over 1100m (where Victorem finished second behind Viridine in the Listed Ortensia Stakes) … and then, as I said, in the Group 1 he was trapped off the track. That was over 1300 in the Kingsford-Smith.

“The 1200m was probably the only issue of any concern on Saturday … coming back to the 1200m … but I really went into the race confident that, if he got the right run, he would have every chance of winning. I was also confident that I was on the best horse in the race.

"In fact, I personally think that if he had got into the Stradbroke … the way he went on Saturday … they would have known he was in the race.

“I came out with the plan to be behind Noble Boy if I could. Obviously, I was outside him instead and things didn’t exactly go to plan after that either. I tried to push out into the middle of the track on straightening but that run didn’t eventuate. There was a lot of traffic outside of me. So, I just had to count to ten and wait.

“Once the opening came though, as everybody saw, he really let down. I did go up high in the saddle in celebration at the line. It meant a lot to me. He’s sort of taken me everywhere. It was my first Listed winner on him the other day and to get back him for this preparation has been great.

“(Trainer) Jenny (Graham) is a great supporter of mine. She’s awesome. I have a lot to do with the stable … not just with Victorem … with the whole stable. She is a very, very good trainer. She doesn’t have a big team, but she has got some very nice horses and she knows how to get the beat of them.

“The Brisbane Carnival is mostly dominated by the big stables from down south and obviously they bring their Sydney or Melbourne jockeys with them so it was really good for the bush people to get one up on them.

“I know Michael Beattie (The Clarence River Jockey Club CEO) is working hard to try and get Victorem to the Grafton Carnival. He won the two-year-old Plate there two years ago so it would be great if he did fall that way and he was able to go back there but I’m not sure what the immediate plans are for Victorem at this stage.

There are other options though and Jenny will weigh up all of that and do what’s best.

“I didn’t get to celebrate that hard afterwards. I came back to Grafton and had a few drinks with a couple, of friends in Grafton on Saturday night but it wasn’t too big an evening. I had to ride at 54kg at Ballina on Monday … but it was good to let my hair down to some degree for one night.”

*Victorem (I Am Invincible – Playful Miss) is a four-year-old gelding whose career has been superbly managed by the Port MacQuarie based trainer Jenny Graham. Victorem is now a seven-time winner from fifteen starts and he also has five placings to his credit. The $1.3 million The Kosciuszko, which will be contested at Randwick in October, is a clear aim for Victorem at this stage while the path between now and then has still to be decided.

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Photos: Graham Potter
Photos: Graham Potter
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