Winston Drive capped a week of mixed emotions for Limerick Lane owner Gerry Ryan on Saturday.
The daughter of former Blue Gum Farm sire Churchill Downs came from midfield to defeat Marli Magic (Host) and Inishowen (Encosta De Lago) in the Flemington Hcp (1600m) at headquarters. She had been working up to a win after seconds over shorter trips at Moonee Valley and Flemington.
“She got to the front too soon last time so I tried to time it a bit better today,” jockey Michelle Payne said. “I was worried Marli Magic may have the momentum but my mare was nice and strong to the line.”
Winston Drive’s dam Manhattan Treasure (Portland Pirate) won four races for Ryan and fellow part-owner John Sutcliffe. Her first foal Biatreasure (Bianconi) is also trained by Darren Weir and she won a Hamilton maiden in November.
Manhattan Treasure is a half-sister to LR Dequetteville Stakes winner Manhattan Maid and she has a yearling filly by Elvstoem and a filly at foot by Reset. The mare was bred back to Ryan’s Melbourne Cup winner Americain at Swettenham Stud last year.
Winston Drive broke through at Flemington shortly after Ryan and Weir announced the retirement of their Group 1 galloper Puissance De Lune.
“He just had a little joint problem so we just decided to stop,” Weir revealed. “Gerry said he’s been a really good horse and hopefully he can do the job as a stallion now.”
Puissance De Lune (Shamardal) emerged as a potential star with a runaway victory in the 2012 Queen Elizabeth Stakes at Flemington. The imported grey galloper battled on-going leg issues but still won the G2 Blamey Stakes and G2 Peter Lawrence Stakes as well as a finishing second at Group 1 level in the Makybe Diva Stakes and Turnbull Stakes.
“It was a shame that things went wrong,” Weir said. “He was a good horse and I think he will make a good stallion.”