Virtuous Circle scores Flemington win

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  • June 10, 2024
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NZ Racing Desk

Four-year-old gelding Virtuous Circle registered his first win in more than 650 days when taking out the RDA Daylesford Lesley Hewitt Trophy (2000m) at Flemington on Saturday for trainer Liam Howley.

The talented son of Almanzor last tasted success in August 2022 in a three-year-old 1500m race at Moonee Valley.

Virtuous Circle followed up running third in the Gr.2 Bill Stutt Stakes (1600m) and second in the Gr.2 The Vase (2040m) at The Valley before later in his three-year-old year running second in the Gr.1 Australian Derby (2400m).

His four-year-old campaign was all geared around the Gr.1 Melbourne Cup (3200m) in which Virtuous Circle finished 18th, after which he was gelded.

Virtuous Circle ($14) was having the third start of his current campaign and under Ethan Brown scored a three-quarter length win from Beltoro ($11) with the $3.30 favourite Silent Surrente the same margin away third.

“People are quick to forget in this game,” Howley said.

“He’s only had 16 or 17 starts and I think we’re still scratching the surface with him.

“Gelding him after the Melbourne Cup, certainly had an effect on him. We gave him time and the team at home have done a super job with him.

“We’ve never lost faith, but today is a great result.”

Howley said a winter campaign, which was likely to stretch to the Gr.2 Hotham Handicap (2500m) and the Gr.3 The Bart Cummings (2500m), both at Flemington and both ballot exemption races for the Melbourne Cup, was on the agenda for Virtuous Circle.

He said he wants to continue to build the confidence of Virtuous Circle.

“We know they run on confidence,” Howley said.

“He came back after his last start and had a real temper about him. He was angry and has been angry ever since, and I took that as he was ready to win. – NZ Racing Desk

“His work during the week suggested he was ready to put his hand up and remind people of who he is, and we lowered the bar this preparation to give him some confidence.

“The Cup was really unkind. The ground that day, he really blew up and we had to look after him, so the softer tracks are his go, and I was worried about the Good 4 today.

“He’s got a big tank on him, so we’ll keep him ticking along, tip toeing through the winter.”

Bred by Diane McDonald and Rob Mulcaster, Virtuous Circle was offered by Wentwood Grange at the Sydney Classic Yearling Sale where Howley signed the ticket at A$360,000 along with Andrew Williams Bloodstock and Bevan Smith Bloodstock.

Out of the stakes placed mare She Is Stryking, Virtuous Circle is a half-brother to Listed Castletown Stakes (1200m) winner Danger Strykes.

Virtuous Circle has now won A$776,200 in prize money with three wins and three placings from 17 starts.


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