Ashlor holds on for narrow Valley victory

Craig Brennan
A claim for apprentice Tahlia Hope has helped Ashlor (middle) to a hard-fought win at The Valley

Ashlor has relished the claim of apprentice Tahlia Hope in breaking through for an overdue city victory at The Valley.

The 2kg claim of Hope brought Ashlor in with 54.5kg, 1.5kg under the minimum handicap weight in the Sweeney Real Estates Agents Handicap on Saturday.

Apart from carrying 53kg in a stakes race at Randwick last year, Saturday's winning weight was the lightest Ashlor has carried since running second behind Widgee Turf in the corresponding race in 2018.

"He loves this track and when he gets no weight he was going to be hard to beat," Hope said.

The win on Saturday gave Ashlor his first city success since winning over 1000m at The Valley in December 2018.

However Ashlor had posted victories in the 2019 and 2020 editions of the VOBIS Gold El Dorado in between those city victories at his home track of Wangaratta.

Ashlor ($7) held off a late challenge from Morrissy ($21) to score by a short-head with the $3.80 favourite Tavisan a length away third.

Trainer Dan McCarthy said Ashlor loves the turning Valley circuit recording his fourth win at the track.

"I guess the race mapped exactly how it turned out," McCarthy said.

"Funnily enough he's won by a short-head but she (Hope) was very soft on him in the last 100 metres.

"He knows how to win but he doesn't win by big margins, he just wins, but he was pretty brave.

"It was a good, gutsy effort."

McCarthy said Ashlor would keep racing through winter to take advantage of the softer tracks before resting through the spring.

"He'll then come back for an attempt at a three-peat in the VOBIS Gold race at Wangaratta.," McCarthy said.