Eastender is co-owned by Star Thoroughbreds founder Denise Martin who was reaching for the stars after the stayer’s brilliant win in Sunday’s $250,000 Hobart Cup.
Spreyton trainer Barry Campbell had already earmarked the Adelaide Cup as Eastender’s ultimate target this year but Martin went a few steps higher.
“He’ll go the Launceston Cup next then hopefully the Adelaide Cup and we might even have a look at the Andrew Ramsden Stakes (at Flemington) in May which would qualify him for the Melbourne Cup,” Martin said.
Winning jockey Craig Newitt was more reserved but did suggest that there were a lot of good 2400m-plus races in Melbourne and Sydney that were within Eastender’s scope.
“His main attribute is that he’ll stay all day,” Newitt said.
“But he needs his runs spaced or he becomes too dour so Barry (Campbell) has done a great job with him. He’s basically won a Hobart Cup third-up.”
Martin revealed that Eastender had been so slow early in his career that she “nearly gave him away as a riding horse.”
He’s now won the Devonport, Summer and Hobart cups at his past three starts and taken his career earnings to $353,000.
Eastender settled at the rear and Newitt made a winning decision when he decided to cut the corner on the home turn rather than skirt wide.
“He accelerated really quickly and, when I was up level with the leaders on the home turn, I knew he’d be too strong,” the jockey said.
Eastender won by 1-½ lengths from Victorian Lamborghini with local Appmat a short head away third.
Star filly Mystic Journey produced another outstanding performance to win the $100,000 Thomas Lyons and stake her claim for a berth in the $5 million All-Star Mile at Flemington in March.
Although jockey Anthony Darmanin said the three-year-old “didn’t feel comfortable’’ in the shifty going, she powered home from last to beat weight-for-age star Hellova Street by a half length with Victorian visitor Chamois Road two lengths away third.
Trainer Adam Trinder admitted he had been “slightly concerned” on the home turn when Mystic Journey was still spotting Hellova Street a big start.
“But Anthony only had to give her one stripe (with the whip) and she charged home,” Trinder said.
“Every run is better than the previous and she’ll take improvement out of this race and be spot on for the Australian Guineas next start.
“This is another great result for her owner Wayne Roser – he’s been with me since day one and spends a small fortune each year on training fees so he deserves a good one.”
Top local jockey Brendon McCoull teamed up with James Cummings and Godolphin for the first time to win the other feature race, the $100,000 Strutt Stakes, on Rock Dove and Scott Brunton trained a Cup Day record five winners.