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Murphy eyes winter with VRC Derby placegetter

By Glenn Davis

Beaudesert trainer Di Murphy can’t hide her delight with the acquisition of another former Godolphin galloper, Astoria, who makes his stable debut at the Sunshine Coast on Saturday.

The former James Cummings-trained four-year-old was bought for $140,000 at the recent Magic Millions Racehorse sale by stable client Jack Pakis who has tasted success a number of times with Murphy-trained horses including another ex-Godolphin, Peacock.

Both Astoria and Peacock will clash in the Listed Sunshine Coast Cup (1400m) on Saturday.

Astoria will be ridden by champion jockey Jeff Lloyd and is coming off a last start fifth in an 1800-metre Benchmark race at Randwick on January 12 while Jim Orman rides Peacock.

Astoria has won almost $500,000 in prizemoney but has only won twice with his best win in the Group 3 Spring Stakes at Newcastle in September, 2017.

Astoria then finished third in the 2017 VRC Derby before running a close second to Levendi in the Tulloch Stakes at Rosehill in the Autumn of 2018.

“He’s well-bred and is rock hard and has no issues,” Murphy said.

“He’s coming back to 1400 metres which I think will suit him to a tee.”

Murphy plans to aim Astoria for the Brisbane winter carnival and has the Northern Crown series during the north Queensland winter carnival as a back-up, along with Peacock.

Peacock, the 2018 Rockhampton Newmarket winner, finished third at his third run this campaign at Doomben on January 9 and will again target the TAB Northern Crown series in North Queensland.

Rockhampton

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“If Astoria goes as good as I expect on Saturday, he’ll probably have one more run before he goes to the paddock to prepare for the winter carnival,” she said.

Murphy is excited about the prospects of both gallopers and is thankful for Pakis’ confidence.

Murphy is in her seventh season as a trainer after learning the ropes working for New Zealand trainers Roger James, Gary Stewart and Kaye Tinsley.

She also had two stints, one for six months and another for a year, riding work in Japan.

Murphy has known Pakis for a long time and was recommended by a mutual friend to train for him.

“I knew Jack years ago when he had stables at Hope Island,” she said.

“He’s bought a few tried horses off Gillian Heinrich and gave them to me to train along with Peacock and another Godolphin horse, Toga Picta.

“Jack told me when I first started with him that it would be like an apprenticeship with him and so far, it’s working well.”

Racing Queensland webnews  January 23