Hugh Bowman cruised home on Bivouac at Caulfield. Picture: AAP
Hugh Bowman cruised home on Bivouac at Caulfield. Picture: AAP

Bivouac sparks Blue Army’s spring attack

HUGH Bowman is well accustomed to tempering expectation but Bivouac's slashing Vain Stakes (1100m) triumph at Caulfield on Saturday means the champion jockey will need to be in Winx mode to douse excitement around the colt.

Joining an honour roll boasting Starspangledbanner, Sepoy and Haradasun, Bivouac demolished a quality group of rivals, bolting in by 4.25lengths in near record time after scorching through the final 400m in 21.99secs.

With trainer James Cummings absent, Bowman attempted to keep a lid on a stunning performance.

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"It's early days so we won't get too carried away with one horse or another at this time of the year," he said. "But he's certainly an exciting horse, he's got a good record coming into the spring and I know the stable has a very high opinion of him and he warranted that this afternoon."

Sweeping to the middle of the track after settling along the fence, Bivouac ($3) was unextended in trouncing Sebrakate ($12) and Dirty Work ($26).

Dubious, which opened a $2.70 favourite before drifting to $3.20, finished a distant fourth.

"The race panned out really well for me," Bowman said. "As things unfolded, I was able to manoeuvre myself into a position where I could balance him up and let him go.

"He's certainly got better things in store in the coming months and we expected a good performance and it was no surprise to see him win the way he did.

"But it certainly gave us satisfaction to see that he did do it."

Cummings struck again 40 minutes later when Exhilarates stormed to Group 2 Quezette Stakes (1100m) success.

Ridden by Kerrin McEvoy, the filly took her earnings to more than $1.4 million from just eight starts with a soft win.

"I was able to get a nice little drag into there on the bag of Johnny Allen (Sizzlefly)," McEvoy said. "Uninterrupted passage and she did it nicely and quite cosy towards the end there. Great winning attitude and improvement to come.

"James has got an interesting decision now and the team moving forward as to how far out in trip she goes.

"I'm sure her next run will determine what lies ahead for her during the spring.'

Exhilarates ($7) led home Absolute Flirt ($8) and stablemate Pin Sec ($26). Lyre ($3.80) finished fourth.

CAULFIELD REVIEW

IN A NUTSHELL

As impressive as James Cummings' pair Bivouac and Exhilarates was at Caulfield, it is difficult to imagine a more spectacular winner than Pandemic in Sydney.

The victory was simply staggering, as evidenced by jockey Tommy Berry's post-race assessment. "He's very exciting and it was very exciting what he did," he said. "He let down from a standing start and not many young horses are able to do that.

"Maddi Rocks, who I've got a good opinion of myself, had about a length and a half on him when she quickened, so for him to go from being stopped in his tracks to picking up, charging past and beating a good filly that easily is exciting."

■ A certainty beaten at The Valley last start, Age Of Chivalry was never going to lose the Blue Star Print Handicap (1400m) after Damian Lane sooled the talented galloper to the front.

With the rail 10m out, Lane coolly dictated terms on the $2.30 favourite before comfortably fending off Rox The Castle ($10) and Shot Of Irish ($4.40).

The win soothed the wounds of Age Of Chivalry's previous outing and Lane's ride drew praise from Mathew Ellerton for "taking luck out of the equation".

A son of He's Remarkable, Age Of Chivalry still has racetrack improvements to make but Ellerton and co-trainer Simon Zahra are confident the gelding can rise to a higher level.

Lane had a vicarious hand in another Ellerton-Zahra success soon after when Darmasun won at Wangaratta for Japanese rider Akatsuki Tomita. Lane struck up a friendship with Tomita during his successful stint in Japan and recommended him to Ellerton and Zahra.

Age Of Chivalry was back in the winners’ circle at Caulfield. Picture: Getty Images
Age Of Chivalry was back in the winners’ circle at Caulfield. Picture: Getty Images

■ Clinton McDonald employed some of late father Ross's training wisdom to win the Black Caviar Tribute Handicap with fast-rising Benitoite. Winner of five races from seven outings in a busy first preparation, the Americain mare is likely to remain in work.

"As the old man used to say, you never turn out a mare in winning form," McDonald said.

Benitoite was superbly ridden by Damien Oliver, earning a "10 out of 10" rating from McDonald.

■ The Cockram Stakes and How Now Stakes - Group 3 contests over 1200m at Caulfield over the next month - are on Pippie's radar after her effortless victory in the MRC Handicap (1100m). Trained by John and Chris Meagher, Pippie suffered muscle soreness when seventh behind champion sprinter Sunlight in last season's Quezette Stakes. Allowed to mature while recovering, the mare is now poised to deliver on early-career promise.

DID YOU SEE/HEAR?

The Smerdon clan has struck fear into the hearts of bookmakers for generations and it was no different yesterday on the Gold Coast when Missile Strike landed a decent plunge. Backed from $16, Missile Strike saluted at $2.20 for John Smerdon, brother of disqualified former Aquanita trainer Robert.

EXCUSES, EXCUSES

Rat With Goldtooth: Lame off foreleg after stumbling and almost falling near the home turn.

STEWARDS

Anthony Darmanin: Suspended for eight weeks for careless riding after his ride on Behemoth in the Regal Roller Stakes.

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