AN IMPRESSIVE few months for trainer Mick Sell since his move to Bendigo became even more remarkable on Bendigo Cup day.
The former Kyneton mentor scored a popular win with the sometimes luckless Carlingford, boosting his season win tally to eight and adding to an already impressive lead in the Bendigo trainers’ award.
The five-year-old led from the outset and staved off spirited challenges from the Mick Price-trained Nariko and Matthew Ellerton and Simon Zahra-trained Matty, to score the sixth win of his career from 28 starts.
It was the gelding’s first victory since his benchmark 78 success at Seymour in April.
The then four-year-old was spelled with an injury following that win after being struck by a clod of turf during the running of the race.
His trainer praised both the sprinter and jockey Dean Holland for being able to dig deep when challenged in the straight.
“Obviously with the other horse breathing down his neck I was very nervous, but to the horse’s and the rider’s credit it was a very good win,” he said.
“I was definitely confident coming into the race, but it wasn’t a bad little field. Until it’s over, you’re never really sure.”
Carlingford had been racing consistently without breaking through in the lead-up to his 1100m win on Wednesday.
The gelding put together back-to-back placings at Morphettville in September, including one in Listed company, before a disappointing 10th in the weight-for-age Durbridge Stakes, also in South Australia, earlier this month.
Sell was confident in his ability to have Carlingford well prepared for a tilt at Cup day success.
“He was definitely fit, we only had to keep ticking him along,” he said.
“Obviously back at Bendigo racecourse, it was a lovely track for him today.
“I definitely can’t complain about our run (in Bendigo), we’ve had a very good run with eight winners so far.
“I’m definitely not regretting (the move), and we definitely haven’t gone backwards.”
Carlingford’s win boosted his career prize earnings to $132,000.
In an ironic twist on Wednesday, a younger horse out of the same mare (Fanza) as the Sell-trained winner won the next race on the 10-event program.
The quietly-spoken trainer remains on-track to eclipse last year’s career-best tally of 20 winners, but was undecided on his next move with Carlingford.
“We’ll just see how he pulls up, obviously he’s been to Adelaide a few times now, so we’ll just go from there,” Sell said.
More certain is his participation in the lucrative Spring Carnival at Flemington, with Sell set to saddle up Penny to Sell in the final of the Melbourne Cup Country Series on Oaks day.
Sixteen horses have qualified for the $200,000 final, including the Darren Weir-trained Superhard and the Matt Cumani colt Akkadian, who finished first and second in Wednesday’s heat.