A CHANGE of tactics paid dividends for Bendigo galloper Churchill Express at Sunday’s Bendigo Jockey Club meeting.
Trainer Shane Fliedner had originally planned to run Churchill Express in the Mildura Cup (1400m) on Sunday.
However, two poor runs in a row forced Fliedner to lower his goals and the decision to run Churchill Express over 1100m in lesser grade worked.
Ridden by Chris Symons, the five-year-old stormed home from second last to defeat Make Mine Brandy in the final stride.
“He’d been overracing in his previous few runs, so I wanted to turn him around,’’ Fliedner said of Churchill Express.
“We decided to try something different and ride him back in the field over a shorter distance.
“On his best form he had a bit on that field, but it was still good to see him finish off like that.
“Hopefully, we’ve got him back on track. We might keep him to the shorter distances at his next couple of starts.”
Churchill Express has now won four of his 21 career starts and earned more than $75,000 in prize money.
Meanwhile, the Shaun Dwyer-trained Star Darci produced a similar style win in the Bendigo Advertiser BM64 Handicap (1400m).
After starting from a wide barrier, Star Darci was forced to race three-deep near the back of the field.
Jockey Michael Rodd made his run on Star Darci from the 600m mark.
The gelding was still in the second half of the field on the home turn, but he produced a strong finish to win narrowly from Lycka Till.
“Michael (Rodd) thought he was going to win by more at the 100m mark,’’ Dwyer said.
“He said the horse stargazed a bit in the final 100m. To sit deep and still win the race against a pretty good field was a good effort.”
Dwyer said Star Darci had jarred up at Flemington at his previous start.
“We’ve always thought the horse had good ability,’’ Dwyer said.
“Hopefully we’ll get him back to Melbourne later this preparation.
“He’s bred to get out beyond 2000m, but we’re in no hurry with him. He’s not quite ready to get there yet.”