The five-year-old son of Coolmore stallion Rock of Gibraltar had only run three times in his life – and never before in Australia – before contesting the #LoveTheHorse Trophy over 1600-metres, a distance that looked as though it would be short of his best.
But with the hat-trick-chasing Vungers setting a strong pace at the head of affairs, Long Arm’s latent stamina came into play and the gelding responded strongly to the urging of Childs, to battle over the concluding stages and score.
“It was meant to be a warm-up today but if that was a warm-up then there’s a lot to be excited about,” said Manny Gelagotis, brother of license holder Peter.
“He’s been pretty bombproof since day one. He spent a month at Caulfield from when he arrived on 1 September.
“He ran, unluckily, fourth in a listed race at his third start at weight-for-age [in Ireland] and Pondus [who ran second in the Bendigo Cup and Queen Elizabeth Stakes during the spring carnival) ran second in that race.
“He’s a strange horse to read. I suppose under pressure you find out what they’re all about. To come to Flemington first-up in Australia on debut over a mile, for a horse that profiles like this, it is unbelievable. If the form is true then he should go right through his grades.
“We’re dreaming,” he continued. “We bought him as a Cups horse but we’re not sure which Cup that’s going to be. But going on today, I think we should be excited about what the future holds.”
It was a red letter day for two young female trainers, who both saddled their first Flemington winners.
Maddie Raymond has only been training since the start of this year but got on the board at headquarters when Wentwood made the most of the weight concession – six kilograms – he was getting from the classy mare Princess Jenni to win narrowly for the in-form Damian Lane.
Wentwood was trying a long trip – 2600m – for the first time and Raymond may now return to Flemington on New Year’s Day for the Bagot Handicap.
Irishwoman Caroline Jennings was saddling her first Flemington runner when she sent out the unbeaten three-year-old filly Written Miss in the Lexus Holiday Plate, a race contested by a number of promising three-year-olds.
And the daughter of Written Tycoon, partnered by Jason Benbow, lived up to her billing when she made all the running to win narrowly from the much more experienced Pioneer River.
Apprentice Campbell Rawiller was another to break his Flemington duck, landing his first ever winner at the country’s premier venue when he scored aboard the Phillip Stokes-trained Defiant Dancer.
Michael Lynch is The Age’s chief soccer reporter and also reports on motor sport and horseracing