Prince Of Sussex ridden by Michael Dee wins the Ladbrokes Showdown at Caulfield Racecourse on April 27, 2019 in Caulfield, Australia. (Pat Scala/Racing Photos)
Matt Laurie labelled Victorian Owners and Breeders Raceday “as exciting a day as I’ve ever had” after watching his star juvenile win The Ladbrokes Showdown (1200m).
The Showdown made its debut on Victorian Owners and Breeders Raceday at Caulfield on Saturday, 27 April, and the much-hyped $1 million race for two-year-olds did not disappoint.
Named after the legendary stallion of the 1970s, The Showdown attracted a stellar field of young sprinters, all sired by Victorian-based stallions nominated for the VOBIS Sires Race Series.
As far back as January, Laurie had revealed that he was aiming Prince of Sussex for The Showdown, and the long-range plan came to fruition in emphatic fashion when his stable star surged past his rivals to claim the $500,000 first prize.
“I put a bit of pressure on myself when I flippantly said I was aiming him at The Showdown, and I’ve had a bit of press ever since,” said Laurie.
“It’s as exciting a day as I’ve ever had. That was an outstanding win.”
Prince of Sussex had qualified for The Showdown with a dominant performance in the VOBIS Gold Rush (1000m) on Bendigo’s Golden Mile Race Day, earning a $137,500 winner’s cheque that guaranteed him a start in the race.
The gelding was sired by leading imported stallion Toronado, who stands at Swettenham Stud and boasted the highest number of nominations for The Showdown, with five of his progeny amongst the original entry list of 32.
For his jockey Michael Dee, the win came as something of a relief after the in-form hoop had made the difficult decision to partner Prince Of Sussex over the John Sadler-trained Sartorial Spendor, who started the race as the $3.20 favourite.
“Thankfully I made the right decision,’’ said Dee. ‘‘Prince of Sussex is beautiful to ride.”
Hightail (by Written Tycoon), trained in Sydney by Peter and Paul Snowden, ran second by 1.75 lengths, taking his total prizemoney to $459,240, while the Lindsay Park-trained Mishe Mokwa (by Moshe) finished third, bringing the progressive filly’s record to two places from two career starts.
Racing Victoria’s (RV) Executive General Manager – Racing, Greg Carpenter, said The Showdown delivered on its objective of being the headline act on a fascinating day of high-quality racing.
“We were delighted with the reception received for the first ever running of The Showdown,” he said.
“The race was outstanding, from the exceptional number of nominations received, to the crowd and energy on course at Caulfield on the day.
“We’re already looking forward to next year’s instalment, as well as the expansion of the VOBIS Sires program with a $500,000 three-year-old VOBIS Sires (1600m) race which will commence in 2020.
“The Showdown is the next exciting step in our VOBIS program and a wonderful opportunity for RV and Thoroughbred Breeders Victoria to reward owners and support the breeders who have invested their resources, time and energy into Victorian racing.”
The Showdown was one of nine races on Victorian Owners and Breeders Raceday, which included seven VOBIS Gold Premier Races and offered more than $2.5 million in prizemoney and bonuses.