Will Savage eyes second Goodwood win with Savatoxl

Savatoxl wins The Goodwood
Savatoxl, trained in the NT by Will Savage, is out to win The Goodwood for a second time when he lines up in the Group 1 at Morphettville this weekend. (Picture: Atkins Photography)

Alice Springs trainer Will Savage believes a favourable barrier will give his charger Savatoxl every chance in The Goodwood (1200m), a $500,000 race at Group 1 level, at Morphettville on Saturday.

The seven-year-old gelding, who surpassed $1 million in prizemoney after taking out the Group 3 DC McKay Stakes (1100m) at Morphettville on May 6, will be aiming to win The Goodwood a second time.

The son of Kuroshio, a winner of 19 races from 39 starts, won the McKay Stakes in 2021 with 54kg before backing up two weeks later to win South Australia’s feature race for the sprinters while carrying 56kg.

Last year, Savatoxl (60kg) finished second behind Free Of Debt by a nose in the McKay Stakes before lumping 58.5kg to finish eighth in The Goodwood behind Lombardo.

After drawing gate three and carrying 60.5kg to victory in the McKay Stakes earlier this month, Savatoxl has drawn barrier six with a 57kg impost for The Goodwood with Savage once again securing the services of Adelaide jockey Caitlin Jones.

2023 DC McKay Stakes replay

1st – Savatoxl

Savatoxl, who raced in Victoria and SA under the guidance of Ballarat trainers Tony and Calvin McEvoy from September 2020, returned to the Savage stable after finishing 10th in the Group 1 Manikato Stakes (1200m) at Moonee Valley last October.

During that period Savatoxl, who is part-owned by Savage after he was purchased at the Inglis Yearling Sale during the 2017 Alice Springs Cup Carnival, also won the Group 3 Schillaci Stakes (1100m) at Caulfield and the Listed Christmas Handicap (1200m) at Morphettville.

Apart from a 17th as a three-year-old in the Group 3 Fred Best Classic (1400m) at Eagle Farm in May 2019 when he debuted on the grass, Savatoxl’s record in the NT from March 2018 to August 2020 was outstanding with nine wins from 12 starts in Alice Springs and three wins from six starts in Darwin.

When racing in the Top End, leading Darwin trainer Gary Clarke cared for the horse.

Victory as a $19 hope in The Goodwood two years ago was unexpected before starting as a $14 chance last year, and with Saturday fast approaching the gelding was a fixed-odds quote of $18 with online bookmakers.

Before his recent Adelaide win, Savatoxl made his first appearance in the Red Centre in 35 months when he won at weight-for-age level over 1200m on April 22 with Savage electing to head back to SA instead of contesting the $100,000 Pioneer Sprint (1200m).

Savage, who attended the Tennant Creek Cup meeting last Saturday before ending the day with a double when Redenzo Lad and Mi Mijo saluted, was the toast of Hagan Park among his NT peers.

“I received plenty support wishing me the best of luck in The Goodwood, it was good,” he said.

“They all come from everywhere there for that one meeting a year and it was a good meeting.

“I was happy with the way my two horses handled the track, they won well.”

Savage is already in Adelaide and is looking forward to The Goodwood.

“Savatoxl is going good and hopefully he can win, I’m pretty happy that he has another good gate,” he said.

“He held on in the McKay Stakes after leading all the way.

“He had a good gate, I think that was the key that day.

“He was fresh and he ran really well – very strong to the line.

“It was a Soft 7 that day and I believe Morphettville is currently a Soft 5, so that won’t worry him if the weather is good.”

READ: The Goodwood 2023 betting preview, tips & odds

Light showers have been predicted for Thursday, Friday and Saturday.

“Caitlin seems to handle Savatoxl, she doesn’t pull him around and jerk him around too much,” Savage added.

“He likes to roll forward and be ridden like that – they seem to get on good.

“We’ll go forward on Saturday and just see where he lands and then see what those other horses do, but I’d say we’re going to be in the first couple.

“I’m tipping Kallos, James Cummings’ horse, as the one to beat, but Kementari is also pretty good and he’s probably got a bit of speed early too.”

Having Savatoxl in his life has been a magic carpet ride for Savage, who still can’t believe he has won $1,034,583 in stakes.

“Never thought he would be so successful, he’s been really good to me and is by far the best horse I’ve ever had,” he said.

“There really wasn’t a moment in Alice Springs when it was obvious he had ability.

“He just improved all the time and always showed me a little bit as a young horse.

“He was just smooth, his action was good, over ground he’s a nice strider, and he only got better when he got stronger.

“He was a bit better than average, but he had to learn to run on the grass.

“In his first couple of starts on the grass he didn’t do too good – everything was a shock for him in Queensland, where they also run the other way.

“He returned to the NT and raced in Alice and Darwin, but when we took him to Adelaide he was a different horse.

“I think he just matured a bit more with the McEvoys, he was also a little bit older and smarter.

“Instead of just continually doing things his own way he’s learnt to be a racehorse.”

Savage plans to take Savatoxl – arguably the NT’s best-ever horse – back to Alice Springs following The Goodwood.

After making a winning Pioneer Park return last month, Savatoxl could make his long-awaited Fannie Bay return.

“Well, there’s nothing here in Adelaide for a while, so I think we’ll go back home and just freshen him up again,” Savage said.

“Not exactly sure where we’re going to go.

“We could end up in Darwin for a run and then probably back down here again after that.”

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