Conservatorium proves best status in Eye Liner glory
CONSERVATORIUM proved far too good for his rivals in the City of Ipswich Eye Liner Stakes (1350m) on Saturday but recent narrow defeats meant his jockey was taking nothing for granted.
Starting at $6, the five-year-old from Adelaide made light of his 59kg impost to post a two-length win in the $175,000 feature with Meet George (second) and Pellegrini fighting out the minor placings.
But Conservatorium's close seconds in the Group 1 Goodwood Handicap and Group 2 QTC Cup prior to Saturday meant his jockey Joe Bowditch was on his guard right to the wire.
"He probably put them away 100-150m out and when he got there, he stargazed a bit," Bowditch said.
"I've been beaten a few times on the horse by small margins so it was never over till I got past the winning post but it was a big relief.
"The horse has done really well since he's been in Queensland and when he came out here today, it might have been the atmosphere here, he had a real spring in his stride so I knew he was on the way."
The defeat by a nose in the QTC Cup meant Conservatorium missed a run in the $1.36 million Stradbroke Handicap.
However, Bowditch said that was inconsequential after Saturday's win. "It's a good feeling because I've had a fair bit of luck on the horse but never actually won a race on him," he said.
"I've run seconds in Group 1s and Listed races and stuff and to be disappointed the other day when we thought we'd won only to get beat, it was a bit of a relief to get the money today."
In the end, he said, it was better to win the Eye Liner than contemplating what might have been in the Stradbroke.
"We were disappointed we didn't get a run in the Stradbroke. He deserved his chance and it would have been nice to see him take his place in the field but at the end of the day we've come here and won the Eye Liner, which is also a great race," he said.
"It may have just been a blessing that he did get beat."
Bowditch said he wasn't concerned with the 59kg and the race went more or less to plan.
"The plan was to either lead or sit outside the leader," he said.
"The horse jumped well, showed nice speed early, there were a couple outside me that wanted to go a bit keen - the speed was a little bit hot for me - so I came back off a bit but I got a nice run in the race.
"I followed Morning Captain and when Chris went around him, I sort of got on Chris' back and got out coming around the corner.
"I probably could have stayed there and looked for runs but I didn't want to be stop-start with 59 kilos so I got him out and he produced a good run."
Lloyd Kennewell, the son of winning trainer Gary Kennewell, had similar feelings to Bowditch about the race.
"He probably always looked the winner once he straightened up, he was too good for them," Kennewell said. "I wasn't worried about the 59 because the barrier draw basically offset that.
"He was the best horse in the race and he won like that."
Asked about winning the Eye Liner being a consolation for missing the Stradbroke, he said: "I'd rather win this race than run fifth or sixth in a Group 1 with him.
"To be honest when I got here yesterday and looked at him, he looked super. He looked probably the best he's ever looked in the yard today. And he raced like that," he said.