Ethan Brown has been unable to ride on the limit weight for several seasons but it may become the new normal as his latest effort to shed kilos was again rewarded with Flemington feature race success aboard Sirius Suspect.
The eight-year-old gelding trained by Saab Hasan followed up last month’s Listed All Victorian Sprint Series Final (1200m) win at Flemington on July 2 by defeating six rivals in Saturday’s $200,000 G3 Aurie’s Star Handicap (1200m).
Sirius Suspect carried the minimum weight in both black type handicap sprints of 54kg and prior to the All Victorian Sprint Series Final, Brown had ridden at that weight once since August 2017 when unsuccessful aboard odds-on favourite Riding the Wave in last year’s Listed Chester Manifold Stakes (1400m).
Brown started last season in inglorious circumstances, sidelined during the spring for breaching COVID-19 protocols, but has flourished in recent months.
His win aboard Chartres in April’s $500,000 VOBIS Sires Guineas (1600m) at Caulfield was the biggest of his career prior to achieving Group 1 success aboard Snapdancer in the Robert Sangster Stakes (1200m) at Morphettville the following month.
Brown’s two stakes victories aboard Sirius Suspect represent his first black type wins in Melbourne and Hasan credited Brown for his role in coaxing Sirius Suspect back to winning form this winter.
“Ethan has done a wonderful job to ride him at 54kg, he’s very underrated and I think if he can continue to ride at that weight he has a bright future,” Hasan said.
“He listens the kid, he takes in everything that you tell him, and he’s got a great understanding of the horse.”
Sirius Suspect ($3.60) shared leading duties in the Aurie’s Star with Brown controlling the pace of the race. Sirius Suspect ran his first 600 metres in 36.03 seconds before closing his final 600 metres in 33.95 seconds to score by 1.25 lengths.
Stageman ($7) tracked Sirius Suspect into the race and switched off heels to finish second with Shooting For Gold ($4) third a further half-length away. Last start G3 Bletchingly Stakes (1200m) winner King of Sparta ($2.90 favourite) held his ground for fourth.
“They (Hasan and stable track walker Peter Ellis) were adamant that they wanted that lane (of the track), we again backed our judgement and it paid off,” Brown said.
“He travelled well early, he had an easy enough lead, and keeping in mind some of the horses behind us were first up, I let him roll from the 600 metres and that’s where I felt he won the race.
“He gave me a better feel this start than last start, and sustained a really strong gallop, and seems to be thriving with age and racing.
“He can go on with it although he was really well placed today and got in well at the weights.”
There is also a feeling Brown is ready to ‘go on with it’ himself due to his newfound lightweight status.
“I’ve been doing it (riding lighter) the last month and each time I’ve done it, I’m feeling better,” Brown said.
“Coming into this time of year with the spring on the horizon, I don’t see why I can’t keep doing it.
“I think I’ve matured a lot as a person, the way I eat and rehydrate after races has changed and I’ve learnt how to cook for myself.
“I’ve had trainers over the past few years and incorporated a few things from them, and put it altogether and it’s taken me a little while to work it out but I feel like I’ve figured out what I need to do.”
This year’s Aurie’s Star was of moderate quality when compared against past editions of the race but runner-up Stageman, having his first Victorian start for Danny O’Brien, produced an encouraging effort.
“He ran well,” Stageman’s rider Damien Oliver said. “He just was a little bit at the mercy of the slow tempo and the winner had a pretty comfortable run in front and a pull at the weights as well.”
Jamie Kah (Shooting For Gold) and Mark Zahra (King of Sparta) believed their mounts raced too keenly through the first half of the race which impacted their finishing position while Craig Williams (Just Folk) urged punters to disregard his sixth-placed effort.
“Unfortunately you haven’t seen the best of Just Folk today, he just didn’t handle racing down the straight.” Williams said.
Article – Carl Di Iorio (Racing.com)
Photo – Racing Photos