Hobart Cup Countdown

Count Da Vinci returned to his brilliant best with a weight-for-age victory in the LR Kevin Sharkie Stakes (1600m) at Elwick on Friday.

Trainer Scott Brunton was elated after the victory and confirmed the former Kiwi stayer is on track for the G3 Hobart Cup (2400m) on February 10. He won Tasmania’s signature event in 2017.



“I’m confident I’ve got him back to where he needs to be and repeat what he did two years ago,” Brunton said. “We will take him down the same path and I couldn’t be happier with his progress so far.”

Bluegrass Bloodstock (FBAA) agent Lenny Russo bought Count Da Vinci in New Zealand for owners Wayne and Mignon Notman. He has won 9 times in 36 starts for almost $500,000 in prizemoney.

Count Da Vinci (Faltaat) had only won a Woodville maiden in 17 starts before crossing the Tasman. “He got crook after landing here and lost 40kg,” Brunton recalled. “Thank God Lenny and Wayne are smart at what they do and he’s turned out to be a real good buy.”

Friday’s victory was his first since the 2017 Moe Cup but had signalled a return to form with a game second in the LR Conquering Stakes at Mowbray earlier this month. He settled behind the leaders before Siggy Carr gave her charge a squeeze to establish a two-length margin.

Brunton revealed the winner had thrown a scare into the camp on Friday morning. “He had a boil on his wither the size of a small football but we managed to treat it so that he could race. But was touch and go for a while.”

The black-type continued Bluegrass Bloodstock’s winning run this month starting with Mr So And So in Hong Kong. The So You Think gelding, a $100,000 buy for Russo at the 2016 Inglis Melbourne Premier Sale, broke his duck at Sha Tin for trainer John Size on December 2.

Lovin th'castle (Castledale) won her maiden second-up at Moe after a year on the sidelines. She is trained by Peter Gelagotis and is owned in the same interests as Bluegrass stakes winner Moss ‘N’ Dale. “Moss ‘N’ Dale is also by Castledale and Peter knows the breed,” Russo said. “He has been very patient with the mare but she's worth it.”

Gelagotis is hoping Moss ‘N’ Dale gets a run in the $5 million All Star Mile at Flemington on March 16.

Handsome Return is another tried horse from NZ going great guns for trainer Will Clarken. He doubled up at Gawler on December 5 and 15 before going down a long-neck at Morphettville on Boxing Day. Russo bought the 4yo son of Handsome Ransom shortly after an Awapuni win in April.

Over in Western Australia, The Cornish won his first two starts at Esperance on December 1 and 15 for trainer Peter Fernie. A NZ-bred son of champion sire Pins, he was a $50,000 Bluegrass buy at the 2017 Inglis Premier Yearling Sale on behalf of Emile Panossian who operates Sun Block Blinds in Perth’s northern suburbs at Malaga,

Federation of Bloodstock Agents Australia (FBAA) was formed in 1988 to maintain, improve and develop the standards, status and services of bloodstock agents throughout Australia. Its members operate with the utmost integrity and professionalism and are bound by the strict Industry Code of Conduct.

Hoofnote: Mr So And So won again on Saturday for Size and Joe Moreira in the Shek Mun Hcp (1400m) at Sha Tin. He was initially purchased by Bluegrass for Dream Thoroughbreds as were Saturday’s Australian winners Columbia (Morphettville) and Savvy Shields (Stony Creek).