Antonio regins supreme in the G3 Sandown Stakes over 1500 meters.

Photo credit / Bruno Cannatelli

Antino Returns to Winning Ways

Nothing went right for Antino in his Melbourne debut, but the son of Westbury Stud’s Redwood left that in the distance when he reigned supreme in the G3 Sandown Stakes over 1500 metres on the Hillside course on Sunday.

The star Queensland galloper had been denied any room in the straight when beaten into fourth in the Listed The Sofitel at Flemington last month under rider James Orman, who paid the price and was replaced by Blake Shinn.

He had the Tony Gollan-trained five-year-old in clear air throughout and Antino delivered an ideal dress rehearsal for the A$1 million G1 Toorak Handicap at Caulfield on Saturday week.

“He’s handled everything really well and definitely improved with his first-up run and this was always going to be his next one,” Gollan said.

“Blake knew he is a very versatile horse and was always going to let him settle and come with one run.”

Antino travelled in fifth spot away from the fence and, after ambling up to challenge 300 metres from home, he finished off stoutly to post his ninth victory from 11 appearances.

“He was given a beautiful run throughout after he was a touch tardy and then he mustered to get in a good spot,” Gollan said.

“He was tradesman like, he never wins by big spaces, and he will get better.

“He knuckled down when he had to and did what he had to and there is more improvement to come from him in the Toorak.”

Shinn was suitably impressed by Antino, who has no doubt he is a genuine Group 1 contender.

“In a better race with more pressure, potentially the Toorak, he will be competitive,” he said.

“He was a little bit slow away, but he relaxed and with clear galloping room he delivered.

“He’s an exciting horse, very genuine and when he needs to, he pins his ears back.”

Bred by the Blossom Trading & Breeding Company, Antino was purchased out of Cheltenham Stables’ New Zealand Bloodstock Ready to Run Sale draft by New Balance Racing, of Hong Kong, for $27,000.

He is a son of the unraced Bahhare mare Mahamaya, who is a sister to the G1 Captain Cook Stakes winner Hurrah and the Hong Kong Stakes winner and Group 1 performer Best Gift.