Trainer Chris Waller has rated young stayer Ombudsman a potential Newcastle Gold Cup contender after a strong effort to win at Royal Randwick on Saturday.
“We took Ombudsman to Brisbane for the Queensland Derby but he was an emergency and didn’t get a start,’’ Waller said.
“But he has proven he can stay today and I think he will be nice ‘NSW’ cups horse in the spring.
“I think races like the Newcastle (Gold) Cup are the sort of races that we will aim him towards.’’
Ombudsman took on older more seasoned stayers on Saturday but proved too good for his rivals in the Winter Racing Handicap (2400m).
Corey Brown, who won on Helaku in the opener, completed a double when he drove Ombudsman ($4.40) past the consistent Only Tiger ($7) to win by nearly two lengths with Diamond Star Halo ($19) one-and-a-half lengths away third.
Nahuel was backed into $3.80 favouritism but after settling back in the field, he ran on only fairly in the straight to finish fifth.
Brown, who is due to leave for a European holiday later this week, is a master tactician in staying races and came away with a glowing endorsement of Ombudsman’s ability.
“I think that races like the Newcastle Cup are perfect for this horse,’’ Brown said.
“He is not an easy horse to ride because he doesn’t really have a gear — he is just a one-paced, tough stayer. He will get further, too.’’
Ombudsman is a lightly-raced son of striking grey stallion Reliable Man, the former French galloper Waller trained to win the 2013 Queen Elizabeth Stakes, and improved his record to two wins from just 12 starts.
Waller isn’t in any rush to send Ombudsman for a mid-year break, either.
“He has taken a while to come to hand but he’s improving with racing,’’ Waller said.
“There is a suitable race in two weeks times and as you can see he is starting to put it together now.’’
Only Tiger is a remarkably genuine stayer. He was beaten on his merits on Saturday but his game effort to finish second was his ninth minor placings to go with his three wins from 15 starts. He has never finished further back than fourth.
Plymouth Road had beaten Only Tiger last start but after being hampered three times during the race, he was eased out of it from the turn and finished at the rear of the field, 31 lengths from the winner. – Ray Thomas, The Daily Telegraph.