Phillip Stokes sets sights on Group 1 Goodwood with Nostradamus

Just like the prophet carrying the same name, Phillip Stokes predicted big things for enigmatic sprinter Nostradamus when he joined his Morphettville stables earlier in the year.

And that forecast was, at least in part, fulfilled on Saturday when the high-class four-year-old stormed home to claim a last-stride win over gallant local mare I Am Gypsy in the Group 3 $120,000 Irwin Stakes.

It was Nostradamus’s second run for the Stokes team after finishing a close-up sixth in the Manihi Classic a fortnight ago.

“He’s a very good horse when you can get him right,” Stokes said. “We’ve put him into our system and it seems to be working.”

The richly bred four-year-old, a $500,000 yearling who is a half-brother to Group 1 winner Star Witness, was bought by Rosemont Stud as a stallion prospect. He was sent to Stokes with the hope of adding a Group 1 triumph to his CV before he retires to stud.

And Saturday Nostradamus took another step towards that goal, signalling his readiness for the Group 1 $500,000 Darley Goodwood at Morphettville on May 21.

I Am Gypsy ($17) looked to have the main prize in her grasp for trainer Gordon Richards when she surged to the front at the 200m mark. But Nostradamus ($13) sprinted hard when jockey Dom Tourneur worked him into the clear, gobbling up the ground to snatch a long-head win.

The second Stokes runner, Runway Star ($4.80), produced a terrific effort for third after being slowly away, while favourite Tuscan Sling ($2.30) disappointed to finish a lacklustre eighth after settling on the rails just off the pace.

“He’s a big, burly kind of horse and I think he took a lot out of that first run,” Tourneur said of Nostradamus. “And I think he’ll be even better again next time.”

Stokes confirmed Nostradamus would now be set for the Goodwood — and that elusive Group 1 victory.

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