The Ciaron Maher-trained Jukebox has confirmed his standing as one of the leading Blue Diamond contenders with a comprehensive victory in the Inglis Premier at Caulfield.
Maher selected Saturday’s sales-restricted $250,000 race as an ideal lead-in to the $1.5 million Blue Diamond Stakes later this month, and the colt didn’t let his connections down with a two-length win under Craig Williams.
The prize money for the placegetters in the sales-restricted race counts towards the ballot for the Blue Diamond on February 25 with Jukebox safely in the field.
Jukebox briefly held equal favouritism at $7 with Pariah for the Blue Diamond after his win until Formality, also ridden by Williams, convincingly won the Chairman’s Stakes in the next race at Caulfield and moved to $6.
“He was our benchmark two-year-old so we set him on the path and we thought this race was just nice timing,” Maher said.
“We obviously bought him at the Inglis Melbourne Premier Sale last year. It was a good value race today and it was in his backyard.
“And it’s three weeks into the Diamond now so it’s a nice spacing.”
The colt settled behind the leader and equal $2.70 favourite Perast in Saturday’s 1200m race and when the NSW-trained colt wobbled around the home bend, Williams was able to get a run inside him on straightening.
Jukebox ($2.70) put his rivals away, with debutant Coppergate ($9.50) hitting the line well for second while Perast held on for third, another long head away.
“He’s very professional and very natural,” Maher said.
“He has improved fitness-wise out of his first run but I still think there’s a bit of improvement there also.”
Williams is yet to lock in his Blue Diamond ride, with Jukebox just one of the impressive juveniles he has ridden so far who are high in markets.