Young Werther sends Group 1 statement in Flemington triumph

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Young Werther

Five-time Group One placegetter earned himself another shot at the elite level with a dominant front-running performance in Saturday's $200,000 Prelude (1800m) at .

The -bred son of is well used to performing on the biggest stage, having finished second in the (2400m) and Turnbull Stakes (2000m) and third in the Group 1 (2500m), Turnbull Stakes and Champion Stakes (2000m).

The six-year-old was clearly the highest-rated runner in Saturday's field at 106, but he got in at level weights under the set weights and penalties conditions of the race. Young Werther was sent out as a $2.35 favourite and proceeded to dominate the race from the front.

Rider Damian Lane urged him forward out of the gate and took up a leading position that he never looked in any danger of surrendering. Young Werther kicked hard in the straight and opened up a winning margin of two and a half lengths.

“He was great today,” Lane said. “I've ridden this horse many times now, and this is the first time I've been able to win on him. In my defence, his winning rate isn't great, but he's always raced well at a high level.

“He really got in well at the weights today, and I was able to take luck out of the equation and ride him like the best horse.”

From 29 starts, Young Werther has now recorded four wins and 11 placings, earning more than $1.89 million in stakes.

Trainer will now give Young Werther another shot at the big time in the Group 1 Australian Cup (2000m) at Flemington on March 30.

“He's been in tremendous form since the start of spring, really,” O'Brien said. “You can't find a bad run, and he's run against the best all the way through his career.

“His third start was in the Derby here, where he ran third, and he was beaten by a half-head in the Australian Derby at Randwick later that season. Here he is, still presenting as a six-year-old and still running really well.

“A three-week gap into the Australian Cup now is perfect, and 2000m at Flemington suits him really well. We thought he was unlucky not to win the Champions Stakes over that course and distance in the spring. It would be nice to see him pick up a good Group One.”

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