Aussie Nugget measures up to metro grade

Craig Brennan
Aussie Nugget has continued his rise through the classes, bringing up a hat-trick at Sandown

Imported galloper Aussie Nugget has earned himself a break and a potential shot at bigger autumn races with a hard-fought victory at Sandown.

Aussie Nugget made it three on end when successful in Wednesday's The Big Screen Company Handicap after wins at Seymour and Bendigo.

Sam Freedman, assistant trainer to his father Anthony, said Aussie Nugget had made considerable improvement since a gelding operation and the addition of blinkers.

Ridden by Jye McNeil, Aussie Nugget, the $3.80 favourite, defeated Midas Prince ($6) by three-quarters-of-a-length with Lord Of Darkness ($6.50) in third place.

Aussie Nugget races in the same colours carried by Steel Prince into ninth place in the Melbourne Cup earlier this month.

Steel Prince won the Andrew Ramsden Stakes (2800m) at Flemington in May and Freedman said if Aussie Nugget shows similar staying talent then he may be aimed at that race.

Victory in the Andrew Ramsden provides the winner a ballot exemption to the Melbourne Cup.

"Since we've put the blinkers on him he's now got a real will to win," Freedman said.

"Full credit to Jye. He's ridden the horse perfectly the past few times and was able to get that needle-eye opening today.

"He is slow away which works against him, but he musters quite quickly and gets himself in a nice position despite that but he settles really nicely in his races and has a good turn of foot.

"We'll pull up stumps now. He's had a really good preparation so we'll give him a nice break."

McNeil said he thought he was in trouble when attempting a run on the fence early in the straight.

"I thought the third horse was going to come out and it would open up, but it didn't and it got a little bit awkward," he said.

"I thought it was a pretty good effort the way he had to change course especially on a day when they're not making much ground."

Riding honours for the day were with apprentice Michael Poy who won the final two races on Kardashing for Ciaron Maher and David Eustace and Copper Fox for Henry Dwyer.