Evergreen stayer Sampson confirmed his place in the A$200,000 Gr.3 Tattersall's Cup (3000m) at Eagle Farm this coming weekend with a fighting run for second in the Listed Ipswich Cup (2150m) on Saturday.
The Howie Matthews-trained 9-year-old never looked like shirking his task as he slugged it out with eventual winner Bergerac for the length of the Ipswich straight after working hard to dispute the pace for the last 800m of the contest.
Matthews was thrilled with the run and the judgment exhibited by rider Mark Du Plessis who was having just his second raceday ride on the horse.
"I said to Mark before he went out that I wanted him to use every ounce of his skill as a world class jockey to give the old boy his best chance at winning the race," Matthews said.
"We could see from the speed map that there wasn't really a pacemaker in the race so I was keen for him to roll forward if he could. In saying that, you often get two or three others that think the same thing so I didn't want to see him get caught in a war up front. He was just a little tardily away so Mark did exactly the right thing by dropping him in and taking cover before asking him to come into the race when he did.
"He won the New Zealand St. Leger (2600m Listed) at Trentham with a similar effort and he nearly pulled it off again on Saturday."
Matthews is thrilled with how his charge has settled into the Australian environment as he looks towards his next challenge at Eagle Farm.
"He is loving it over here as it is like being at home in the summer," he said. "It is normally around 27 degrees and he has blossomed.
"He has certainly paid his way and there are numerous other opportunities for him that are coming up over the next few weeks.
"He looks an excellent chance in the Tatts Cup this weekend as the 3000m will be perfect for him while there is also the option of the Caloundra Cup (2400m Listed) a week later if he pulled up alright.
"A month later there is the Queensland Cup (3200m Listed) at Eagle Farm again so we are a little spoiled for choice if he can maintain his form and the handicapper treats him well."
- NZ Racing Desk