Raiment beats older rivals at Randwick

Godolphin trainer John O’Shea has his sights on the Group Three PJ Bell Stakes after three-year-old filly Raiment defeated older horses at Randwick.

Raiment ($2.70 fav) looked a class above her rivals as she powered to a 1-1/4 length win from Sangiovese ($4.60), which crossed the line a short neck in front of Butterboom ($6) in Saturday’s #TheRaces Handicap (1200m).

The PJ Bell at Randwick on April 1 will pit her against a field of three-year-old fillies likely to include the promising Chris Waller-trained Zumbelina.

“Back to her own age and open weights she’ll be competitive,” O’Shea said.

“The other thing we learnt today is that she’s probably looking for seven (furlongs).

“That will open up plenty of avenues for her.”

Raiment benefited from a well-judged ride from English jockey James Doyle who scored his first winner at Randwick.

“It’s nice to get that monkey off my back,” Doyle said.

Fellow three-year-old filly Improvement made it four-in-a-row for trainer Gary Portelli, winning the Australian Turf Club Handicap (1200m).

Apprentice jockey Nick Heywood had an unchallenged lead and went home the strongest to win after being backed from $6 to $4.60 favourite before the race.

“She’s not the biggest filly but she’s got a lot of ticker there,” Heywood said.

Runner-up Echo Effect ($10) put in a gallant first-up performance while Reach For Heaven ($14) filled the minor placing.

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