Damien Oliver has tasted success at all levels of racing, taking out every major event on the turf calendar, but few would have been any sweeter than his victory on Statue of Liberty 3YO, Lion of Belfort.
Oliver has been off the scene for 10 months and was resuming at Geelong today on the Mick Price trained colt: and there were no visible signs of rust as he piloted the youngster to a four length whitewash over the 1100m journey.
Indeed, such was the colt’s domination he is unlikely to be relegated to a footnote ... a pub trivia question about D. Oliver’s return to racing.
Oliver was full of praise for Lion of Belfort as he returned to scale, suggesting the Statue of Liberty flyer was destined for greater things - a view shared by Mick Price who now, confidently, has rich spring spoils in mind.
Only stepping out for the second time after being beaten by the barest of margins over 1000m at Geelong on 27 August, Lion of Belfort never gave punters cause for concern - particularly those who settled for the $1.35 on offer.
Lion of Belfort was snapped up by BC3 Thoroughbreds at last year’s Melbourne Premier and, while there’s a lot of North American black type up close, he also hails from the family of Fastnet Rock Group One winner, Irish Lights.
The Oliver factor aside, this is another big step forward for Lion of Belfort’s sire, Statue of Liberty.
As the sire of Hay List and Mic Mac (and now broodmare sire of Group One winner Rizeena), Statue of Liberty missed a couple of vital seasons due to shuttling restrictions over EI.
However, in his first crop back - Lion of Belfort among them - he has produced a host of speedy types including Octane Flyer, Miss Steele, Miss Santa Fe and co.
What’s more, he has covered over 480 mares in his last four seasons and is currently working his way through another sizeable book at a fee of just $11,000 inc. GST.
And, it’s fairly safe to say that any breeder who watched Lion of Belfort’s demolition job at Geelong will be taking a long hard look at adding to the 2013 book.
|Race photos courtesy of Slickpix|
PS. If you are into trivia, Lion of Belfort is located in France and is a sculpture by Frederic Bartholdi, the bloke responsible for the Statue of Liberty. Over 20 metres long and 11 metres high, it’s made entirely of red sandstone and commemorates French resistance at the Seige of Belfort.