Talented mare Aqua D’ivina (l) has raced her way back to winning form at Kembla Grange.
Trainer Matthew Smith is targeting the Magic Millions with talented mare Aqua D’ivina getting back on track with a win at Kembla Grange.
Punters had abandoned Aqua D’ivina ($19) after three forgettable runs this campaign, when she twice beat only one home at Randwick and followed up with a last-place finish at Rosehill.
But the five-year-old returned to form over 1600m in Saturday’s support race for the $1 million Gong, winning the benchmark 88 by a half-head over Turnberry ($8.50) with rank $151 outsider All But Gone a long-neck further back.
“It was a really good ride from Kathy (O’Hara) today,” Smith said.
“She saved ground, got up along the fence and got through them. Really good win.”
Smith said he thought the often quirky Aqua D’ivina appeared much more relaxed in the pre-race parade.
The mare has at times been her own worst enemy but is bred to be good being by Pierro out of Group One winner Aqua D’Amore.
Things were even bleaker last campaign for Aqua D’ivina, with another two poor runs at Hawkesbury and Scone in the autumn.
“Last preparation she just didn’t come up at all,” he said.
“We just started again with her. She’s been working like she wants the mile, 2000 metres. So we’ve been taking her along quietly at home.”
Smith kept the faith and was rewarded as she claimed her first win in more than 12 months.
“We just had a be a little bit patient with our preparation and just sort of work her into fitness,” he said.
“She’s looked better and better each run and starting to come to life now.”
It’s onwards and upwards from here, Smith said, with the Warwick Farm horseman setting his sights on an 1800m-Open Handicap during the Gold Coast’s Magic Millions carnival on January 11.
“If she can run 2000 metres she might go to another level,” Smith said.
“It all stems from how far she can go and if we can keep her mentally sound. That’s the key to it. She’s always had the ability.”