QUEANBEYAN Cup runner up It’s a Virtue will make his Sydney debut next week after being nominated for the Maiden Plate (2000m) at Randwick on Melbourne Cup day.
It’s a Virtue will head to town on the back of a confidence boosting run in last Sunday’s Cup that saw the lightly raced five-year-old go within a photo finish of causing the biggest boilover in the race’s recent history.
A maiden with just seven starts to his name, the Jules De Smet trained gelding jumped at 33-1 in Queanbeyan’s biggest race of the year.
But he defied the bookies to go within a nose of eventual winner Celtic Soul while holding off pre-race favourite Phrases at the line.
It was a near fairytale finish after De Smet had originally planned to run the well-bred stayer at Canberra on Friday, only to be a late acceptance for the Cup.
“You’ve got to have a wild throw [of the dice] sometimes,” De Smet said. “I was thinking about running him at Canberra in a 2000m race on the Friday but I thought the prize money was here in Queanbeyan.
“To be honest I didn’t think he could win it but I always thought he’d run a place so we took the punt and it worked out happily for everyone.
“He’s always shown plenty of ability, he’s just been looking for a 2000m race.”
Sunday’s Cup marked the latest step in a gradual introduction to the track for It’s a Virtue after a late start to his racing career.
After being picked up by De Smet at the Easter Yearling Sales in 2010, the big chestnut did not step out for his first start until earlier this year.
“We bought him as a yearling and he didn’t end up racing until he was a four-year-old so patience with him has definitely been a virtue,” De Smet said. “That’s where his name comes from.”
“He failed his x-rays at the sales so we’ve just had to give him time. He’s been in work half a dozen times and then just put straight back out in the paddock before he got start.”
Since then, the half-brother to Shannon Stakes winner Rain Drum has failed to salute from eight starts.
But on the back of the best run of his brief career to date, De Smet said he had no hesitation in taking him to town.
“It’s a plate [race] so he won’t get handicapped out of it and we can take a bit of confidence up there now that he’s run second in an open handicap over 2000m,” he said.
“The track up there will suit him as well.”