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By Graham Potter | Saturday, April 15, 2023

The former Mick Price and Michael Kent (Jnr) trained National Choice has taken on a new lease of life since transferring to the Robert Heathcote yard and the five-year-old continued his good work, making it two wins in a row when landing a No Metro Wins Handicap over 1400m at Eagle Farm on April 15.

The son of Snitzel had won on debut for the Price/Kent training partnership but had failed to add to his winning tally in a further sixteen starts for the stable.

Seven months after his last run in Victoria, National Choice finished second at Ipswich over 1200m in his first start in Queensland before doubling his career winning total in his second start for the Heathcote stable, this time over 1400m at the Sunshine Coast.

Heathcote understandably kept National Choice over the 1400m trip for his first start in town and booked Mark Du Plessis for the ride.

Du Plessis has been making quite a habit in recent times of winning the first time he rides a horse, and he added National Choice’s name to that particular list, guiding the gelding home with a perfect ride to score by 1.46 lengths.

National Choice did have the advantage of a number one barrier draw and Du Plessis made certain that National Choice would use that draw to its full advantage by jumping his mount out smartly from the gates, initially establishing a lead before allowing the speed to go around him, while still making sure to hold the rail, ultimately settling in third place, just two lengths off the new leader, positioned exactly where he wanted to be.

Saving ground all of the way, National Choice still had those two lengths to make up on straightening as Du Plessis switched him out slighter wider to ensure he had an uninterrupted run down the home straight.

National Choice’s first target was to get to the leader, the $2.10 favourite Good Chat, and Du Plessis set the Heathcote trained runner about that task in a measured fashion.

It was steady rather than spectacular progress at first but, with the combination of Good Chat starting to weaken and National Choice coming on strong with every stride, the latter reached the lead with 150m left to run.

Du Plessis’s decision not to rush National Choice in the chase down the home straight now showed its value as National Choice still had plenty to give and, while The Drover ($5.50), who would finish second, did look like he might threaten, that was just a brief illusion as du Plessis had timed National Choice’s run to perfection ... as shown by National Choice’s clearcut winning margin.

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Photos: Darren Winningham
Photos: Darren Winningham
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