Simon Miller breathed a sigh of relief and gained confidence to tackle feature races after Longma struck back to score a runaway victory in the B & T Watson Handicap (1200m) at Ascot on Saturday.
The Sebring four-year-old relished the addition of blinkers and defied the afternoon’s pattern of racing when he led and skipped away to post an encouraging 1 ¾ length victory.
Longma was on the quick turnaround and atoned for his first-up performance when he finished a disappointing seventh behind gun sprinter Black Heart Bart two weeks ago.
Miller said he felt relieved Longma was able to deliver on expectations after considering him a certainty when he made his anticipated stable debut.
“I don’t usually back them up first-up from a spell but he pulled up so good we rolled him around,” said Miller on TAB Radio.
“It was good to see him do it because I thought he was a complete moral the previous week off his track work.
“But you do get nervous when he has won just two from 12 and you think why you haven’t won more?
“He didn’t want to take part at his previous run and when crossed he thought he was there for a stroll.
“He is really a good horse and what he is able to do at home is really remarkable.
“He can measure up to any of my track workers and hopefully it’s given him some confidence.”
Longma spent time under Mick Price and Gai Waterhouse and arrived in Perth after beating just one home when 10th to Chautauqua in the Group 2 Gilgai Stakes (1200m) at Flemington on October 4.
Miller says his plan is to take a patient approach with the entire before exploring feature sprint options next year.
“He will have another couple of runs before we tip him out and come back,” said Miller.
“We will take small steps with him and I still think his pet distance is 1400m.
“At some stage we may look at something like the Bunbury Stakes if I can get his rating up some more.
“He is a quality horse and it was good to see him put them to the sword on Saturday.
“He was the only one to lead which puts a bit more bonus on him.”
Stable mate Miss Rose De Lago has likely reached the end of a frustrating campaign after the Listed Starstruck Classic (1600m).
The Encosta De Lago mare set the pace but couldn’t sustain the pressure when fading to fourth and 4 ½ lengths from Real Charm.
Miss Rose De Lago’s highest point in four starts this preparation was a third to Real Charm in the Jungle Dawn Classic (1400m).
“I think she has come to the end and that was evident by the margin,” said Miller.
“She has had to carry some big weights and it’s taken a toll on her.
“You wouldn’t say she has had a stellar campaign but she still picked up some good prize money.
“It’s been a bit frustrating but we will start again.”
Julio Santarelli: RWWA