Persan winning at The Valley (Image: Racing Photos)
Persan showed he might again be the best local hope in this year's Lexus Melbourne Cup after making a winning return to the track over 2040 metres at The Valley on Saturday.
Persan, who had not raced since he finished a gallant fifth as a $41 chance in the Lexus Melbourne Cup when he was the first Australian-bred horse across the line, unleashed a big-finishing sprint from the rear of the field to prove once again what a winner he is.
The four-year-old has now won seven of his past 11 starts with the run beginning with his maiden victory at Bendigo last May.
Co-trainer Ciaron Maher said the race was the beginning of a long-range plan to claim an early Lexus Melbourne Cup berth this year after having to win The Bart Cummings (2500m) at Flemington to win his way through to the Cup last spring.
"We've got a plan with this horse to get him into the Andrew Ramsden Stakes and hopefully get his ticket back into the Lexus Melbourne Cup and focus back on that," a delighted Maher said. "He's fantastic."
Ridden by apprentice Matthew Cartwright, Persan ($6) finished too well for Irish Flame ($6) to win by a long head, with a length-and-a-half to the $17 chance Mongolian Marshal in third place.
Maher said that Persan will basically remain in work until spring after enjoying a long post-Lexus Melbourne Cup break.
"He's an older bull now and you've got to keep them occupied and busy and he's a beautiful horse around the stable but he's a horse that needs to be in work so we'll just keep him ticking over," Maher said.
"He's got to get back to the Ramsden and hopefully tick that off.
"He just had an unbelievable preparation last time and the team have done a great job with him.
"A really good ride by Matty Cartwright. We told him to be patient and just back (have confidence) the horse. He does a lot of work for the stable and he was patient and very strong late."
Cartwright said he was thrilled with his first Saturday win in Melbourne.
"There's nothing better (than winning on a Saturday). It's great to get the monkey off the back and hopefully it is onto bigger and better things," he said.
"It was a great win and I can't thank Ciaron, Dave, Rhys and the whole team enough for giving me the opportunity on this quality colt."