Whitemore trainer Nigel Schuuring is confident of a better showing in next month’s Devonport Cup after noted track lover Willby Rules saluted in Friday’s $50,000 Golden Mile at Spreyton.
The win gives the five-year-old gelding a free ticket into January’s feature race and takes his record on the synthetic surface to eight wins from 14 starts.
Willby Rules was among the fancies in the 2018 edition of the cup, but could only manage sixth.
Schurring, who was also acting as clerk of the course for Friday’s meeting, said he has a better horse on his hands almost 12 months on.
“We ran last year but just got too far back,” he said.
“He ran the second fastest 600m that day and I’m sure he’ll get the 1800m trip this year.
“He loves this track, you only have to look at his record, he never wins anywhere else, but I think he has also matured a bit more and just come into his own.
“He used to be a bit of a ratbag a few years ago over the shorter distances – this is the first time he has won over this distance.”
Ridden by Bulent Muhcu from barrier five, Willby Rules ($4.80) settled on the fence just short of midfield as they went down the straight for the first time, with the Graeme McCulloch-trained Kool Kash setting a fast pace up front.
Kool Kash enjoyed a three-length lead as they turned for home, but Muhcu found plenty of space to peel off the fence and surge down the outside to win by a long neck from the Barry Campbell-trained Eastender ($10), with Kool Kash ($26) holding on for third.
Schuuring now faces a conundrum as he prepares for the Devonport Cup and most likely the Sheffield Cup lead-up race with Muhcu taking the ride on Friday from last-start rider Jason Maskiell.
“Jason (Maskiell) couldn’t ride today because he was in Melbourne, so he called Bulent (Muhcu) and gave him the instructions and it all worked out good,” Schurring said.
“Bulent has won on him now so we will see how the dust settles and it also depends on what sort of penalty the handicapper gives us for the Devonport Cup as well.”