Smash Brave but best to come
It was the win punters wanted but Brave Smash’s victory in Saturday’s Strathmore Community Bendigo Bank Stakes (1200m) at The Valley might not have been the visually stunning Everest dress rehearsal connections had hoped for.
The Japanese import broke through for his first Australian win – and his first victory since October 2015 – with a workmanlike performance as a $1.60 favourite in the Listed feature to overhaul stablemate El Divino and Clinton McDonald’s Revolving Door.
The five-year-old raced three-wide on the speed and while he didn’t appear to savage the line as he did in his first-up run behind Vega Magic at Caulfield, trainer Darren Weir gave the gelding a pass mark and predicted further improvement into his next run.
While he will leave negotiations with Everest slot holders over the coming days to the galloper’s owners, Jamie Lovett and Luke Murrell’s Australian Bloodstock, Weir said he had little doubt Brave Smash could measure up in a feature sprint over the Spring Racing Carnival.
“I would’ve liked to have seen him run through the line and run away from them a bit better but he won and you can’t do much more than that,” Weir said.
“We know there is quite a bit to come because he’s very well in himself and we’re a fair way off being at the bottom of him so we might just have to up the ante a little bit if we’re going to go to bigger and better things.
“We can bring him on a bit more than what he was today because we had him well enough that he would take natural improvement but now we might be able to really screw him down if he happens to get a slot.”
Brave Smash (JPN) and Damien Lane, picture Sportpix.com.au
Jockey Damian Lane said Brave Smash’s ability to put a space on his rivals over the concluding furlong was compromised by his wide run and the fact he had to use him early in the race to ensure a forward position.
“I had to use him up a little bit early which took the gloss off his finish at the end,” Lane said.
“He hadn’t won in two years so it might have been that he found himself in an unusual position so he’ll be better for the run and better for the experience.”
The win brought up a winning double for the combination of Weir and Lane who earlier teamed up to score with another import, YuLong Investments-owned stayer Ebidiyin, to win over an extended 1500m. Lane also followed up with another victory, crossing the line on Murray Baker's Bonneval in a dramatic Dato' Tan Chin Nam Stakes.
Weir also continued his solid run in Adelaide over recent weeks when talented stayer Kellstorm scored a comfortable three-length win over 2500m at Morphettville, his third consecutive victory over the course and distance this campaign.