The start of something special

By Riverine Herald

EVEN great horses have to start somewhere and yesterday’s $35,000 Echuca CIH Plate for three-year-old maidens over 1200m introduced Voyage de Lune.

This son of superstar Irish-bred stayer Puissance de Lune was snapped up for the bargain basement price of $10,000 a year ago by trainer Saab Hasan and picked up a cool $19,250 for winning his first start.

Trained and raced by Hasan, the chestnut gelding is a massive horse, almost 18 hands, and still showed a dazzling turn of foot on a very heavy track over a sprint distance.

Hasan did not beat around the bush — he loves this horse and sees him going after black type as a four-year-old, over distances for which he was bred.

“I reckon I can improve him another 20 lengths on today’s run — and for a first up, very immature horse, that’s not as big an ask as you might imagine,” Hasan said.

“This guy still has so much to learn, he can’t even work out how to step off the float, but from the minute I saw him I knew I wanted him.

“The sale was two years ago and hardly anyone was bidding on him but even at that age I thought he really stood out.”

His father had once been a Melbourne Cup favourite before injury stopped that charge, but from 18 starts the striking grey racked up five group 1 wins on his way to a career as a stud sire.

Hasan already has his eye on a 1400m run at Voyage de Lune’s next start — at Flemington, no less — and will be expecting big things.

He was in fourth and almost three lengths adrift with about 150m to run at Echuca yesterday before he simply blitzed the field and was eased up on the line by Brad Rawiller, more than a length in front.

If the heavily-backed Canford Sun and Forever Loud were surprised to see the chestnut gelding flash past them, punters were just as stunned.

It was the horse’s first start, it had never trialled in public (but Hasan admitted it had lost a couple by 30 and 40 lengths) and was sent out at 12/1 — although the connections must have had some idea because he opened the morning at 20/1.

My Boy Nick led from the jump and stole a gap on the sharp Echuca turn home, as horses on the fence tend to do here, but seemed to run out of petrol 200m from the post.

“I’ve always had an opinion about this horse,’’ Hasan said of Voyage de Lune.

‘‘I see him as the old type, like a Phar Lap and like a cups horse. With his big raw body, his speed and he is a dream to train, I can tell you it is a long time since I have ridden a horse like this.

“I am not thinking all that much of the long term, I reckon he will just get there and I felt if he could just put in a good run today that would set him up for a good feel of what it’s all about.

“To get a win over 1200m was a huge result but once he decided to go he was fantastic. For a big horse he simply cruises along, and that will be good for him as we stretch out his distances, but with his wind and stride that shouldn’t be a problem.

“If you had asked me just before they jumped today, I would have said he was about 50 per cent ready – but we might have to review that.”

Other stars of the day were Matt Cumani with a double and Paddy Payne and Billy Egan combined to win the last two of the day.