Sydney trainer Matthew Smith has returned to his home state to collect a Group One victory with Fierce Impact taking out the Toorak Handicap at Caulfield.
Born in Wangaratta in northeast Victoria, Smith, who prepares his team at Warwick Farm, said it’s nice to return to Victoria to claim a big race.
Smith targeted Saturday’s 1600m handicap with Fierce Impact and is now hoping the six-year-old can squeeze his way into the $5 million Cox Plate at The Valley on October 26.
Ridden by Craig Williams, Fierce Impact ($18) scored a 1-3/4 length win from the $7 equal favourite Night’s Watch with Age Of Chivalry ($9) three quarters of a length away third.
Fierce Impact’s victory on Saturday was Smith’s first at Group One level since Hurtle Myrtle won the Empire Rose Stakes at Flemington in 2011.
“It’s always good to come back to Melbourne and pinch a good race,” Smith said.
“It has been a while and this horse has been promising for a long time.
“It is so pleasing to get the job done for all of the owners.”
Smith plans keeping Fierce Impact in Melbourne chasing the big prizes in Group One races.
After a first-up second at Randwick on September 21, Smith elected to bypass The Epsom at Randwick last Saturday and said Fierce Impact races best when kept on the fresh side.
“We’d always planned for this race and then maybe to the Cantala or the Mackinnon (both at Flemington) depending on what happens with the Cox Plate,” Smith said.
“There’s three good races there for him.”
Williams said he had spoken at length to Smith about Fierce Impact who can be a tricky horse to ride.
He said Smith told him to cuddle the horse for as long as possible before producing him.
“He was awesome,” Williams said.
“Lately the Toorak has been a skinny race at handicap conditions so the Sir Rupert Clarke Stakes is always the best form into this,” Williams said.
“But this year, they had a capacity field and there was 12 horses that could have won it so it just puts more merit on the horse’s dominance today.”