In-form Winks boots home Roman Eye

Roman Eye may not want further than the mile according to jockey James Winks however he needed every inch of the journey to secure victory in yesterday's $70,000 Lone Pine Handicap (1600m) for three-year-olds at Betfair Park Sandown Hillside.

A last start maiden winner at Ballarat, Roman Eye profited from a frenetically run first 400m of the race which saw Playawedge, Garozzo, Agrippa and Bold Dazzler all battle for the lead.

The favourite of that quartet, Garozzo, was three-wide for the majority of that exchange while Roman Eye enjoyed racing behind that wall of horses in fifth position.

When the field straightened for home, Garozzo and Agrippa kicked away to go a length clear of Roman Eye and for much of the straight it appeared the duo would fight the race out between themselves.

However the toll of the early speed duel told on both those runners with Roman Eye and Winks gradually finishing over the top of his rivals to win.

Roman Eye, who was friendless in betting drifting from $5 to $9, won by a short half head ahead of Agrippa with Garozzo a further length and a quarter away in third.

The other fancied runner in betting, Kutchinsky never appeared a winning hope at any stage of the race, finishing three lengths from the winner in fourth.

“I sort of had a good run in behind them and to his credit it was a real slog up the straight but he just kept putting his head out,” Winks said.

“I don’t think he’ll go any further, I think the mile will see him out.”

Winning trainer Danny O’Brien said that after yesterday’s performance Roman Eye will have a couple of more starts in similar company this preparation before hopefully furnishing into a sound four-year-old in the spring.

“He’s sort of been a horse that’s been finding his feet,” O’Brien said.

“He has been very competitive in a lot of those maidens and now he’s broken through and put two together.

“It was his first go at the mile so James was always going to give him a conservative ride and as it turned out it was the difference,” O’Brien added.

By Elvstroem, Roman Eye is out of the stakes winning mare Ticket To Rome who won the Group 3 Drumstick Gold Plate (1400m) for mares at Flemington back in the autumn of 2001.

Prior to that she finished third in the 2000 Christmas Handicap (1450m) at Cheltenham behind Border Time.

Ticket To Rome is the dam of four foals, two to race – including Roman Eye – and both are winners.

Cent to Rome, the other foal to race, raced with moderate success in Melbourne before racing under the name of Happy Ho in Hong Kong.

Roman Eye now has two wins and five placings from eight starts with his prizemoney standing at $98,117.

Story by Carl Di Iorio, to view full Virtual Form Guide story click here

Photo by Slickpix, to view Slickpix website click here