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By Graham Potter | Sunday, September 12, 2021

The David Vandyke trained four-year-old gelding Smart Star Prince started at the prohibitive odds of $1.50 in a Maiden Handicap over 1300m at the Sunshine Coast on September 12, and he duly landed the odds after getting the better of the second favourite Star Patrol ($4) over the final 100m.

Ryan Maloney jumped Smart Star Prince into the lead at the break, but he was then content to let the speed go past him as he confidently settled the Vandyke runner in fourth spot, just over two lengths back, getting the run of the race on the rail going down the back stretch.

Maloney was happy to hold that position until late in the approach to the turn where, after saving ground, Smart Star Prince emerged in second place on straightening with Maloney shifting his mount out to be able to get a crack at the frontrunning Golden Athena ($26).

Smart Star Prince gradually took the measure of Golden Athena and he was the leader from just inside the 250m mark, but his race was not won yet as Star Patrol emerged as a real threat by producing a determined challenge and making up ground quickly along the inside.

It became a race in two over the concluding stages and, while Smart Star Prince had to work all of the way to the line to see off Star Patrol, he always held the advantage over his challenger and was good enough to maintain it under pressure to go on to win by 0.20 lengths.

Smart Star Prince has been a work in progress. After four starts (for a second and a fourth place) between September 11, 2020 and March 12, 2021, Smart Star Prince was away from race action for a little over five months and his two performances this preparation suggest he has taken a lot of benefit from that time off.

He resumed with a second place, just 0.20 lengths behind La Amigo, at the Sunshine Coast on August 22 and then took the next step by winning this race when increasing the distance test to 1300m.

The win was a welcome change of fortune for the stable who had saddled five second placed runners since Sea Ripple won on August 29.

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Photos: Graham Potter
Photos: Graham Potter
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