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Devonshire Duke salutes first up - and busy weekend ahead

What a terrific return to the track it was for Devonshire Duke at Ballarat on Thursday, the lightly raced and talented four-year-old saluting in impressive fashion at his first run since last April.

Always well regarded by the stable - campaigned in stakes races during the Sydney carnival last autumn - Devonshire Duke has returned bigger and stronger, looking set for a good preparation.

Nicely rated by Michael Rodd, Devonshire Duke travelled nicely outside the leader - kicking clear at the 200m and finding plenty when challenged over the final stages.

Congratulations to owners Ballymore Stables, Noel & Judith Griffin, Peter Walker, Krauser Racing, Rupert & Cheryl Legh Racing, Gurners Bloodstock Co (manager Andrew Ramsden) and the ARK Syndicate.

Devonshire Duke's first victory came at his Doomben debut in July 2011 and aboard that day was Chad Ormsby who now heads, with Aleisha Moroney, Ballymore's New Zealand operations.

Hopefully Devonshire Duke is the first of several winners over the next few days. Our weekend kicks off at Moonee Valley on Friday night where Red Eye Special contests the 2500m Night Cup.

"A bit of rain about would be nice for him," Michael Moroney said, adding that the six-year-old strips fitter for his last couple of runs.

"He is getting up to his right sort of distance now and it is the first time this preparation that he has things in his favour."

Saturday sees us saddle up one of our stable stars in one of the Group One features - the popular grey Glass Harmonium resuming in the $500,000 Futurity Stakes.

Having his first run since the Australian Cup in March, the seven-year-old has been shaping well.

"We are really happy with him," Moroney enthused, confident that Glass Harmonium can run a good race - providing, as always, he jumps well.

"He has drawn out which is a concern," he admitted, "as he may have to do a bit of early work. But he always races well at weight-for-age and it would be no surprise if he won."

Sunday is a busy day with four acceptances at both the Kilmore and Colac meetings - including runners in the Cups at both tracks.

Lordoftheparrots, from barrier 2 with Jason Lyon aboard, looks nicely placed in the Colac Cup - having finished on strongly without the best of luck when second in the Terang Cup last start.

"All things being equal he could've won that race," Moroney said.

"He has trained on well and it looks the right sort of race for him."

Moroney is still tossing up whether to run Epic Choice from an outside gate in the 1400m maiden but Pismo Beach takes his place in the 1200m maiden.

Having his first run since an encouraging debut fifth last May, the son of Strada is expected to run well.

"He is quite a fast horse who has improved and got stronger," Moroney said - "he is a first up chance."

Last start Ararat winner Surface Tension also heads to Colac where another bold showing is anticipated - "he has trained on well since that nice win and there is no reason why he can't continue on with his good form."

Multiple Group One winner Wall Street is our Kilmore Cup runner and despite a tricky draw and topweight of 60kg he should prove hard to toss.

"He has a lot of weight (60kg) but he deserves it," Moroney conceded.

"He ran a very good race last start (fourth in All Too Hard's Memsie Stakes) and if he takes that form to Kilmore he will be the horse they all have to beat."

Hidden Strategy may not run from his wide gate in the 1200m maiden but Macpherson is ready to take her place in the 1450m maiden after a strong second at her most recent outing - her best run to date.

"She was much improved last start and the winner of that race (Good Thinking) has been in placed town since."

Chilean Plume contests the final event at Kilmore and he looks nicely primed for his first attempt at a bit of distance.

"He is bred for a trip," Moroney said - pointing out that the Pins gelding's dam Lava Lady was stakes placed over 2600m whilst her sister Lahar was place in a Melbourne Cup.
[21 Feb 13]

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