Swinging toward Easter goal

Sultan Of Swing (Sam Weatherley) starting today's Ellerslie programme off well for Cambridge stables.

Sultan Of Swing (Sam Weatherley) starting today’s Ellerslie programme off well for Cambridge stables.

Ellerslie is proving a happy hunting ground for Sultan Of Swing and trainer Shaune Ritchie is keen to lift his sights to a major mission on the course.

Sultan Of Swing took his record to four wins from 10 starts when leading throughout in the Crombie Lockwood 1200 at Ellerslie today. Three of those wins have been on the track and now Ritchie is considering a tilt at the Gr.2 $200,000 Manco Easter Stakes on the course on April 22.

“I’d love to get him to a race like the Easter,” said Ritchie. “He’d probably need to win another race to get into a field like that, but winning a $50,000 race today is a really good step in that direction. We’re very happy.”

Sultan Of Swing has mastered the 1600 metres of the Easter Stakes, having done so as a three-year-old at Tauranga 14 months ago, but he hasn’t been tried beyond 1500 this campaign.

He won over 1400 metres at Ellerslie last December then was an unlucky fifth behind Ruud Not Too in the Dunstan Feeds Rising Stars Championship Final (1500m) on Boxing Day and had finished fifth again, at Trentham over 1400, leading into today’s event.

Sultan Of Swing met just four opponents today and knew them all well as each one was also from Cambridge. With no obvious pacemaker in the field apprentice Sam Weatherley was instructed to take him to the front from the outset.

“He often runs into bad luck trying to run on from behind, so at least he’d be out in the clear,” reasoned Ritchie. “It worked out well.”

Sultan Of Swing went straight to the lead then was joined by Blizzard on his outside, then Weatherley asked him to accelerate on straightening for the run home. Sultan Of Swing responded well and kicked clear then held out the Catherine Cameron-trained Light Shadow by a neck.

Ja Ja Binks, the favourite, fought on for third ahead of Mr Knowitall and Blizzard.