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By Graham Potter | Saturday, April 30, 2022

Stradbroke Season … six Saturdays of Carnival Racing in Brisbane … kicked off at Eagle Farm on April 30 and the Gai Waterhouse and Adrian Bott trained Major Artie and jockey Mark Du Plessis were the first to claim a spot on the scoreboard when winning the opening event on the card, an Open Handicap over 1825m.

The four-year-old son of Artie Schiller started a $2.30 favourite, but he had yet to win beyond 1600m and was stepping up in class as well having his first run on the Eagle Farm track, factors which Du Plessis had to take into account when plotting his race strategy.

Having said that, Du Plessis made his intentions clear from the very first stride, jumping Major Artie into an immediate lead, a position he retained at a comfortable gallop going down the back stretch a length-and-a-half ahead of Trevelyan ($5.50) who had crossed to settle in second spot.

Du Plessis continued to rate his horse well in front all through the sweep to the home turn and, when the attacks started to come just before straightening, Du Plessis, likewise, started given his mount more rein.

Major Artie responded well to Du Plessis’s urgings, giving a good kick at the top of the straight, but the result was still no ‘gimme’ In fact, coming through the 150m mark, only two-and-a-half lengths covered the first six runners.

If Major Artie did feel the pressure of having a wall of horses snapping at his heels, he didn’t show it outwardly at all, digging in under a determined ride by Du Plessis to hold all challenges at bay to win by 0.40 lengths.

This was a good, measured performance by both horse and rider.

“It’s actually my first ride I have had for Gai (Waterhouse),” said Du Plessis, “so it is special … for me anyway.

“She might remember I rode work for her a long time ago and she said, ‘I promise you I will give you a ride one day … and I think this was her promise.

“Look, the horse was a month between runs, and he had not won beyond a mile before. I know the weight helps and all that sort of thing (Major Artie had carried 60kg and 58.5kg in his previous two starts before dropping to 52kg for this run).

“When I spoke to Gai beforehand, I said I thought there was only one other horse that might take on early, otherwise I would be happy to lead.

“We got a nice soft lead … probably went a little too slow … but, as I said, he was a month between runs, and I was trying to do my best to get him to the 1800m.

“I think he will improve from this run and be more than competitive next time.”

Major Artie is now a five-time winner from seventeen starts.

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Photos: Graham Potter and Darren Winningham
Photos: Graham Potter and Darren Winningham
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