Safeguard Fights Hard For Vain Win
As Peter Snowden outlined Group One plans for Vain Stakes winner Safeguard, rival trainer David Hayes was left to ponder what might have been.
Unbeaten sprinter Safeguard took the first step towards a spring Group One target with a thrilling win over the luckless Fast `n' Rocking in the Vain Stakes at Caulfield on Saturday.
While trainer Peter Snowden celebrated Safeguard's third victory from as many starts, rival trainer David Hayes was left frustrated after Blue Diamond runner-up Fast `n' Rocking was narrowly denied after being held up at a crucial stage in the straight.
Safeguard ($3.50) began well but was eased back by Kerrin McEvoy to trail the leaders before building momentum into the straight.
He held on by a nose from Fast `n' Rocking ($4.60) who had settled third on the fence and stormed along the inside when he finally got into clear running.
Hill Spy ($8), having just his second start, did a fine job to finish third another 1-1/4 lengths away with favourite Il Cavallo fourth.
The Group One Coolmore Stud Stakes (1200m) over the Melbourne Cup carnival is the major spring aim for Safeguard but Snowden will send him out next in the Group Two Danehill Stakes at Flemington.
Snowden's former star Sepoy won the Vain Stakes two years ago to start an unbeaten campaign which culminated in a Coolmore Stud Stakes win.
"He's the same size as Sepoy, whether the motor is the same we'll find out," Snowden said.
Safeguard won his only two starts last season, including the Kindergarten Stakes, and Snowden believes there is more to come this spring as he continues to gain race experience.
"That's just his third start. There's a lot more improvement in the horse," Snowden said.
"He's got to get a bit more race-savvy but he definitely shows good potential."
McEvoy said Safeguard was only 85 per cent fit and lost concentration in the straight.
"He still had a bit in the locker and was looking around a bit," McEvoy said.
"It all bodes well for the rest of the spring."
Fast `n' Rocking was unlucky not to break his maiden but signalled he was right on target for the Golden Rose and Caulfield Guineas.
"He's getting this tag as a maiden but he's the most genuine maiden I've trained," Hayes said.
"He's only ever been in Group races and he should have won that.
"It would have been great to kick off with a win."
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