BENDIGO trainer Shane Fliedner is hopeful another city-class win will come sooner rather than later for his consistent four-year-old Hi Stranger.
For the second time in three starts this preparation, the versatile gelding had to settle for a valiant second at Flemington, after finishing just over a length away from the Ciaron Maher and David Eustace-trained Bartholomeu Dias in the $125,000 Sir Eugene Gorman Handicap (1600m) on Saturday.
It's the fifth time in nine starts this season that Hi Stranger, who was ridden by Damien Thornton, has finished among the placings at city-level.
Fliedner is confident his dual-city winner can quickly add to his tally of metropolitan wins.
"I was pleased with him (on Saturday), he did everything but win," he said.
"If he could have got to the outside, I think the going was a little bit better, but he had to go back to the inside.
"I thought his run peaked at about the 50 or 60-metre mark, but he will benefit from that run and we will move forward."
A second-placing on Saturday delivered his ownership group, which includes Fliedner, $22,500, boosting Hi Stranger's overall earnings to $423,450 from 28 starts.
He has won five races and been placed 10 times, with the obvious standout victories being his wins at Moonee Valley and Caulfield in 2020 and his triumph in the $100,000 Echuca Cup earlier this year.
Fliedner is as confident as ever his rising five-year-old has plenty of good races left in him.
"I hope he gets a little bit further in distance, I think he can, but I'm not sure. I've always wanted to do it," he said.
"Maybe next time in we'll get out past a mile.
"Really he's bred to get 2000m, but I don't want to do it while the tracks are wet. We want him around for a while.
"He's a handy horse to have and really good ones are hard to find.
"His next city win won't be far away. He's won the two down there in Melbourne, but he deserves to win a few more."
Fliedner said he was thrilled to see Hi Stranger continuing to deliver for his owners, describing them as 'a great group'.
"They've got a lot of other shares in horses of mine, which really helps," he said.
"It would be nice to win a good race for them, he's not far off the level that might be able to win him a Listed-type race eventually."
Meanwhile, Fliedner said a tough outing at Caulfield three weeks ago had taken a heavier than expected toll on his other runner at Flemington on Saturday, Air Defence.
The three-year-old, who is a winner of three of his 12 career starts, finished well back in the field in his benchmark 78 event (1200m).
"He got tightened up a couple of times in the straight and he's still suffering the after-effects of getting into trouble the start before," Fliedner said.
With 13 wins to date this season, Fliedner is in the box-seat to claim the Bendigo trainer of the year title.
The dual-Group 3-winner holds a two-win lead over Kym Hann, with Josh Julius close by on eight, one ahead of Jarrod Robinson.
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