Godolphin Take the G3 Queen Elizabeth Stakes
The outstanding form of trainer Charlie Appleby’s Australian team continued in stunning style at Flemington on Saturday when Francis Of Assisi turned the G3 Queen Elizabeth Stakes into a procession.
Following on from his three-length win in the G3 Bendigo Cup, Francis Of Assisi had 10 lengths to spare over his closest rival, Vengeur Masque at Flemington as he produced one of the most dominant performances seen in Melbourne this spring.
As well as gaining his second stakes win on the flat, Francis Of Assisi gave Appleby his fourth victory in Australia as a member of a four-horse team that has won more than A$1.4 million in less than a month.
“The horses have all done well and have all backed up well, but this horse you could just see, mentally, he was thriving,” Appleby said.
“He’s been a great lead-out horse on the training track, helping us get the others fit,” the trainer said.
“When you’re doing the sort of work he does at home, having those decent horses looming up alongside you every morning, once he got his own head in front and won his own race in the Bendigo Cup he thought he was King Kong.”
As well as Francis Of Assisi, Qewy and Oceanographer, the Appleby-trained Scottish finished a fine second in the G1 Caulfield Cup.
“It’s been a great learning curve, we couldn’t have asked for it to go any better,” Appleby said.
With William Buick in the saddle, Francis Of Assisi travelled sweetly behind the leader Tom Melbourne until easing into clear running at the 500m.
Nothing else had a chance from that point as the son of Danehill Dancer cruised away from the field and was still increasing his lead as he reached the line.
Godolphin’s locally-trained team then stepped into the limelight with Souchez scoring an immensely satisfying victory in the Listed Hilton Stakes.
After almost dying only five months ago, Souchez (John O’Shea/James McDonald) burst through the pack 100m out to win the Listed Hilton Stakes by a short neck from Inside Agent.
Trainer John O’Shea said he had feared the worst for Souchez when the colt suffered a severe bout of colic only hours after running fourth in the G1 TJ Smith Stakes in Brisbane in June.
“It’s been a great team effort, to get him back, he nearly died in Brisbane.
“He got very ill after the race and spent a couple of weeks in hospital, we thought we were going to lose him.”
Souchez overcame a wide draw at the notoriously tricky 1400m start at Flemington thanks to a well-planned and beautifully executed James McDonald ride.
O’Shea said the colt could now be set for the West Australian Guineas in Perth next month with the long term goal the G1 Stradbroke Handicap in Brisbane next June.