It was a happy Spring Stakes return to Newcastle for jockey Tye Angland when he rode Godolphin colt Astoria to victory on Friday in the group 3 (1600m) for three-year-olds.
Angland steered Astoria ($4.20), third in the group 3 Ming Dynasty three weeks ago, from the rear of the field on the home turn to a length win over $2.50 favourite and $1.6 million Frankel colt Merovee.
It was Angland’s second win in the race after taking the Chris Waller-trained Devil Hawk to victory in 2015.
The 2016 edition of the race, put back to February this year, was run at Randwick because of the Newcastle track renovation.
Angland expected bigger and better things, including the group 1 Spring Champion Stakes next month at Randwick, to come for the James Cummings-trained colt.
“I had a good run, the tempo was a little bit worrying along the back, but when I got clear room, he was always going to let down well enough to win,” he said.
“I liked his first-up run and he’s obviously improved since that.
“He’s a nice horse and one to watch for the future.
“He’ll get further. The Spring Champion is 2000 metres and that will suit him.”
In the group 3 Tibbie Stakes (1400m) to close the meeting, the John Thompson-trained Zanbagh took advantage of the scratching of local hope Invincible Gem with a half-length win.
Kris Lees’ Invincible Gem, a $2.50 favourite late on Thursday, was scratched on Friday morning because of an elevated temperature.
Zanbagh, coming off a last place in the group 2 Tramway, was wide throughout from barrier 15 but powered home to beat Perfect Rhyme.
Thompson praised the ride of Hugh Bowman and said the group 1 Epsom Handicap was on the radar for the seven-year-old mare, which is a two-time Emancipation Stakes winner.
“She’s a good mare and was probably the class mare of that field once Kris’s came out,” Thompson said.
“Hughie rode her last time she won and he just knows how to ride her. She actually likes being really wide like that.
“The 1400 is a bit short for her but he got her going that last bit.”