Virtuous Circle notches Flemington win

Virtuous Circle winning at Flemington on Saturday.  - Photo: Bruno Cannatelli
Virtuous Circle winning at Flemington on Saturday.

Photo: Bruno Cannatelli

Four-year-old gelding Virtuous Circle registered his first win in more than 650 days when taking out the RDA Daylesford Lesley Hewitt Trophy (2000m) at Flemington on Saturday for trainer Liam Howley.

The talented son of Almanzor last tasted success in August 2022 in a three-year-old 1500m race at Moonee Valley.

Virtuous Circle followed up running third in the Gr.2 Bill Stutt Stakes (1600m) and second in the Gr.2 The Vase (2040m) at The Valley before later in his three-year-old year running second in the Gr.1 Australian Derby (2400m).

His four-year-old campaign was all geared around the Gr.1 Melbourne Cup (3200m) in which Virtuous Circle finished 18th, after which he was gelded.

Virtuous Circle ($14) was having the third start of his current campaign and under Ethan Brown scored a three-quarter length win from Beltoro ($11) with the $3.30 favourite Silent Surrente the same margin away third.

"People are quick to forget in this game," Howley said.

"He's only had 16 or 17 starts and I think we're still scratching the surface with him.

"Gelding him after the Melbourne Cup, certainly had an effect on him. We gave him time and the team at home have done a super job with him.

"We've never lost faith, but today is a great result."

Howley said a winter campaign, which was likely to stretch to the Gr.2 Hotham Handicap (2500m) and the Gr.3 The Bart Cummings (2500m), both at Flemington and both ballot exemption races for the Melbourne Cup, was on the agenda for Virtuous Circle.

He said he wants to continue to build the confidence of Virtuous Circle.

"We know they run on confidence," Howley said.

"He came back after his last start and had a real temper about him. He was angry and has been angry ever since, and I took that as he was ready to win. – NZ Racing Desk