Imported stayer Index Linked delivered trainer Chris Waller a feature race double with a narrow victory over Escado in the 2015 Caloundra Cup at the Sunshine Coast this afternoon.
Waller admitted in the lead-up to the Caloundra Cup that Index Linked was no certainty to run out a strong 2400 metres and jockey Damian Browne elected to ride the seven-year-old very conservatively in the early stages of the race, while Volkhere took up the running from Sir John Hawkwood.
Index Linked tracked into the race very nicely and was full of running coming into the home straight, but there was no clear running ahead of him and it looked as though he was going to be blocked for a run.
Escado responded well when asked for an extra effort and he looked as though he was going to record his first race win since he took out the 2013 edition of the Group 1 South Australian Derby (2400m), but Browne was able to find clear running for Index Link and the veteran got his nose in front in the shadows of the post to take out the 2015 Caloundra Cup.
The Caloundra Cup victory was Index Linked’s first over 2400 metres during his racing career, but he is likely to drop back in trip for Group 2 Brisbane Cup (2200m) at Doomben on June 6.
Index Linked stamped himself as a consistent stayer during the 2013 Spring Racing Carnival and he missed the placings in just one of his nine starts over that period, but he missed almost a year of racing due to injury.
The Dansili gelding made a slow start to his summer campaign, but he returned to winning form in the Montague Jazz Apple Handicap (1800m) at Caulfield on April 14 and he claimed a stakes win in the Listed Mornington Cup Prelude (2000m) at Caulfield on February 28 before he made it three wins on the trot in the Yarra Valley Cup (1950m) on March 15.
Index Linked failed to run out a strong 2400 metres in the Listed Mornington Cup (2400m), but he produced improved performances in the Group 3 JRA Plate (2000m) at Royal Randwick on April 18 before he finished an unlucky second behind Epingle in the Chairman’s Handicap (2200m) at the Gold Coast on April 25.
Escado returned to his best form after failing to fire in the Group 2 Hollindale Stakes (1800m) at the Gold Coast on April 25 and the Group 1 Doomben Cup (2000m) last weekend and went extremely close to recording his first race win in over two years.