Date: May 06 2012
TODD Howlett was a relieved trainer as his stable's shining light Star Of Octagonal returned to the winner's circle in stakes company at Hawkesbury on Saturday.
Star Of Octagonal was able to hold out the challenge from Western Symbol to take out the $150,000 listed Rowley Mile (1600 metres) and record his first stakes win in more than two years.
The five-year-old emerged as a big-race prospect during his three-year-old season which netted wins in the group 3 South Pacific Classic at Randwick and the Scone Guineas.
The gelding didn't win again until February this year.
Star Of Octagonal dislikes wet tracks and Howlett patiently waited five weeks between runs leading into the Hawkesbury feature.
''I'm just relieved. It's been a long time between runs and coming down the straight I was saying 'I hope I have him fit enough'. And he was,'' Howlett said.
''Everyone has put a lot of effort into this horse and it's a great result.''
Howlett is targeting the Scone Cup (1600m) in two weeks but is also keen to have a crack at the group 1 Stradbroke Handicap in Brisbane.
''We want to go to Scone but if he pulls up well after that we'll go for the Stradbroke,'' Howlett said.
''He's a great horse for me and his owners and he's a good horse for Robert Thompson too. He's a real part of it.''
Thompson produced a tactically perfect ride as he settled Star Of Octagonal in behind the speed and then found his way through near the inside turning for home.
Western Symbol emerged as the challenger but the veteran Thomspon was able to keep Star Of Octagonal going to win by a head with Saint Encosta 1½-lengths away third.
''I've had a fair bit to do with this horse and it's a bloody pleasure to win this race for Todd and the owners,'' Thompson said.
''They've stuck by not running him on heavy tracks and even took him all the way up to Eagle Farm and scratched him [because it was wet] and brought him back home. They've had a lot of faith in the horse and so have I.''
Gai Waterhouse wasn't able to build on her three earlier winners with Western Symbol second and favourite Fast Clip out of the placings.
Waterhouse was thrilled with Western Symbol's performance dropping back in distance from 2000m to 1600m.
''You've just seen the Brisbane Cup winner in my opinion,'' Waterhouse said.
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