Sandown yesterday provided an excellent prelude to the Warrnambool May racing carnival for champion hurdler Black And Bent and promising steeplechaser Phaze Action, who both won impressively.
Phaze Action overcame difficulties to win the Like Sportingbet Steeplechase (3300m), while Black And Bent cruised to his eighth straight victory over the jumps in the Pink Ribbon Hurdle (3300m).
Trainer Robert Smerdon confirmed Black And Bent would contest the A$100,000 Galleywood Hurdle (3200m) at Warrnambool on May 2, a race he won two years ago, and other set weights, plus penalties, hurdles as the season progresses.
Black And Bent, sent out $1.26 favourite, again amazed his rider Steven Pateman with the ease of his five-length win, untouched under 70kg, over Cats Fun ($8) with last year's Australian Hurdle winner Our Aristocrat ($5) a half-neck away third.
"I don't know how he does it but it's a relief to know that he's in form for the preparation in front of him.
It's exciting," Pateman, who is unbeaten in six rides on Black And Bent, said.
"He's a horse of a lifetime and he's expected to win so you just want to get the job done and you are just anxious that he gets around.
"I just shook the reins at him after the last and he had a good gallop on ground which is perfect for jumping in this sort of [fine] weather."
Cranbourne trainer Matthew Hyland said Phaze Action would go to the A$100,000 Brierly Steeplechase (3450m) at Warrnambool on May 1.
The 2009 Andrew Ramsden Stakes (3200m) winner scored by 2 lengths from Fareer ($2.90). Last year's Brierly winner Vindicating ($3.30) was 1 lengths away third.