Success for newest Flemington trainers
Flemington's two newest trainers began the next stage of their careers at Geelong on Wednesday with Mathew Ellerton and Simon Zahra both saddling up their first runners since their partnership formally ended.
While Ellerton and Zahra have both been based at Flemington for decades, it was announced in October that the cousins would be going their separate ways with both remaining at headquarters.
Ellerton's last runner in his own right was eventual Group 1 winner Response, when she finished second to Faint Perfume in the Group 2 Kewney Stakes at Flemington on March 6, 2010.
Response sported the famous light blue, yellow and red colours of Barry and Midge Griffiths, most notably carried by 1989 Melbourne Cup winner Tawrrific and 1992 Caulfield Cup heroine Mannerism, who herself won the Kewney. Therefore, it was only fitting that Ellerton's first runner was also for the Griffiths.
That horse was Lunares, with the Akeed Mofeed mare finally breaking through at her ninth start to gain a first victory.
Sent out as the $3 favourite at her first run since July, Lunares led all the way under Damian Lane to score by a length and three quarters. Given the manner of her win and her stout pedigree, it wouldn't surprise to see her racing over a trip as the summer progresses.
"Well done to Mathew Ellerton Racing, first runner out on his own and a first winner too," said Lane. "Obviously, he's a great trainer and hopefully the winners continue."
Zahra was Ellerton's foreman before the pair joined in partnership but he has had runners in his name before, most notably former West Australian sprinter Let Go Thommo. It was in Zahra's name that the hardy Group 1 winner took out the Group 2 Carlyon Stakes at Moonee Valley and the Group 3 Bletchingly Stakes at Caulfield.
While Zahra didn't add to his tally, the late-closing second of Galactus and the pace-setting fourth to Magnus Bellagio suggests that it won't be long before the trainer prepares the first winner of his new venture.
Zahra remains the trainer of Age Of Chivalry, winner of the Group 3 Paramount+ Chatham Stakes on the final day of the Melbourne Cup Carnival, while Ellerton's stable will include this year's Group 1 Seppelt Wines Newmarket Handicap winner Zoutori.
Image caption: Lunares after winning at Geelong (Image: Racing Photos)