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Classy European Import Bois d’Argent Takes Doomben Cup

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He may have come the long way around to achieve it, but European import Bois d’Argent  became the fourth Australian elite-level winner for Swettenham Stud’s Toronado  when he clung on for a courageous all-the-way victory in the AU$1 million Doomben Cup (G1) May 25.

Bois d’Argent won minor black type in his second southern preparation, in Rosehill’s Lord Mayor’s Cup, but had had three tries at the top level before Saturday without placing, though he was fourth in last year’s Caulfield Cup (G1).

On Saturday, however, those frustrations were laid aside, his purchase from Europe fully vindicated, as the 7-year-old held on for a tight victory in the weight-for-age feature. The Annabel Neasham trainee also rewarded backers at odds of 25-1 in winning the race over 2,000 meters (about 1 1/4 miles).

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Springing from gate 8 of 14, Blake Shinn rated Bois d’Argent to perfection in front, enjoying clear running for most of the race, the best part of a length ahead of his nearest rivals. Bois d’Argent found what was needed under desperate riding from Shinn to hold on in a bobbing finish by a nose over New Endeavour 

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Fawkner Park flew home for a narrow third.

Bois d’Argent brought Shinn’s 28th group 1 success and his third Doomben Cup, after going back to back in 2014 and 2015 with Streama  and Pornichet , respectively, the former prepared by Guy Walter only five days before the trainer’s fatal heart attack.

“I’m a bit emotional for this one because obviously my (first) one was Streama with Guy Walter,” Shinn said. “So after I realized I’d won it, straight in my mind was Guy, so it was pretty touching to be able to do it.”

The gray is Neasham’s second Doomben Cup success following that of another European import, Zaaki , in 2021.

“He (Bois d’Argent) was the one I was saying was well over the odds because you just pick back through his form and he’s no worse than the rest of these, than the best horses in this field,” Neasham said.

“He was fourth in a Caulfield Cup. He was a bit unlucky in the Tancred (seventh of eight). It didn’t really work out for him that day but he ran really well.

“He might be a clerk of the course horse one day looking at the color of him. He’s a beautiful horse and it was a great job by the team.”

Chris Waller’s Kovalica was favored and the first Australasian home. But after making some ground from ninth on the turn, the New Zealand-bred 4-year-old could manage only sixth place.

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