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By Graham Potter | Saturday, May 4, 2024

Antino’s flashing, come from behind win in the Group 2 Victory Stakes at Eagle Farm on Saturday was just the tonic trainer Tony Gollan needed as he lines the very smart son of Redwood up for a tilt at the $3 million Stradbroke ... a race in which, you could say, the five-year-old gelding has unfinished business.

Antino didn’t make the final Stradbroke field last year, in spite of being a winner of seven of his eight career starts going into Stradbroke day, but he was still in action at the Stradbroke meeting, giving an indication of what might have been when he won the Listed Wayne Wilson by a three-length margin in one of the supporting feature races on the Stradbroke card.

That was then. This is now ... and Gollan could not be happier. This year’s Stradbroke place is secure and Antino’s effort on Saturday underlined a fact that Gollan has known for a very long time.

Antino is a very good racehorse.

That is not to say he is not without a few quirks, which made the run a very interesting watch, not least for Golan.

“He was really the only horse I was watching soon after the start, because I knew my other two horses had settled,” said Gollan.

“I knew he (Antino) would loll out of the gates ... which he does. That didn’t worry me, but I was really worried about him mid-race. They were going quickly, but I just didn’t know ... I was just so surprised how he couldn’t even travel. He wasn’t even on the bridle.

‘He (Vlad Duric) had to give him one behind the saddle to wake him up ... and then I saw him starting to pick up and get into the race.”

Antino was clearly very slow away ... and, in the first half of the race at least, seemingly uninterested in the task facing him as he raced all of eight lengths off the lead at the 600m mark.

Duric had Antino a little bit closer, but still last as the field straightened for home. From there, Duric had little option but to keep saving ground along the inside and he, steadily at first and then with more meaning, began to pick off the runners in front of him.

Antino did that to the degree that his sustained run carried him right up to the free-running leader Wee Nessy inside the final 180m, before he also took that one’s measure with some aplomb to claim a very impressive come-from-behind Group 2 victory.

“He is just a different level, you know. He is a remarkable horse,” said Gollan.

“The run was even more pleasing because his jump-outs and trials have been moderate, to say the least, but I just have so much faith in him on race-day.

“He can do a job, and his record tells you that.

“He is a bloody nice horse and I’m just so thrilled for him after all the bad luck he had in Melbourne in the Spring.

“To come out and do that ... first up ... I’m very proud of him.”

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Photos: Darren Winningham
Photos: Darren Winningham
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