Rising star Antino (NZ) (Redwood) put a nightmare Melbourne debut behind him with a comfortable return to winning form in Sunday’s Gr.3 Sandown Stakes (1500m).
The Redwood gelding made a huge impression in Queensland with wins in eight of his first nine starts, headed by a dominant performance in the Listed Wayne Wilson (1600m) at Eagle Farm in June.
That blockbuster form prompted his trainer Tony Gollan to set his sights on the Melbourne Spring Carnival, but his southern raid started with a luckless fourth as odds-on favourite in the Listed The Sofitel (1400m) at Flemington on September 16. Hesitant to take a narrow opening along the rail in the straight, he got squeezed back and lost all momentum before coming with big bounds late in the race to get within half a length of the winner.
There were no hard-luck stories on Sunday, with new rider Blake Shinn deliberately keeping Antino in clear air away from the inside rail. The five-year-old was in fourth rounding the home turn, but lengthened stride nicely to move up alongside the fellow New Zealand-bred gelding Here To Shock. That rival lifted bravely on the inside and tried to hold him out, but Antino gradually asserted his superiority and edged past to win by a neck.
“He’s a nice horse – his record suggests that,” Shinn said. “He did a good job today. He was a bit slow away and did a few things wrong in the early stages, but after that all he wanted to do was relax.
“I think it was important to give him every opportunity, get him into clear galloping room and see what he’s got. He delivered the goods really well.
“He was a bit claustrophobic inside horses in his last start, so I wanted to ensure that he had clear room.
“He was going to win really easily at the 300m. Whether he got a bit lost in the big open air after that, it just felt like he was holding back a touch. But he’s an exciting horse and it’s great to get this win on him.
“The more he’s under pressure, the more he’ll keep giving. In a better race – potentially the Toorak (Gr.1, 1600m) – he’ll be very competitive. He’s a good horse.”
Gollan confirmed that Antino’s next start will be the Toorak Handicap at Caulfield on October 14.
“He was tradesmanlike today without being brilliant yet, but that’s what we’ve seen from him in Brisbane as well,” Gollan said. “He did that same thing, but then when he gets into his preparation he gets better. So I think you’ll see him better again in 13 days.”
Bred by Blossom Trading & Breeding Company Ltd, Antino is by Westbury Stud stallion Redwood, who enjoyed a stellar season in 2022-23 care of multiple Group One winner Sharp ‘N’ Smart, Hong Kong Derby runner-up Tuchel, Group Two winner Platinum Invador and stakes-winning juvenile Solidify in addition to Antino.
Out of a full-sister to Group One gallopers Hurrah and Best Gift, Antino was purchased for $27,000 by New Balance Racing at the 2020 New Zealand Bloodstock Ready to Run Sale from the draft of Cheltenham Stables.
Antino’s 11-start career has now produced nine wins, a third and a fourth, earning A$481,415 in stakes.