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Freo upstages rivals to win RJ Peters Stakes at Ascot

Former Irish jumps jockey Dan O’Connor claimed the biggest win of his training career when Freo upstaged his rivals in the Group 3 RJ Peters Stakes (1500m) at Ascot.

Despite rising sharply in class, Freo claimed the scalps of several Railway Stakes hopefuls with a career-best win.

The $5 second favourite, ridden by Shaun McGruddy, stormed home from sixth to beat Cappo D’Oro ($10) by half a length.

Taxagano ($26) was third and Action, the $2.10 favourite, made up late ground to run fifth.

O’Connor admitted he regretted not entering Freo in the Group 1 Railway Stakes (1600m). The winner of the Peters is guaranteed a start in the Railway, but late entries for the $1 million feature closed on Monday.

O’Connor threw the lightly-raced five-year-old into the Peters after his brilliant last-start win in restricted company at Ascot.

“There was pressure every day and every minute,” O’Connor said.

“It’s just a big relief. Even if he ran second I would have been delighted, but to win a Group 3…it’s great.

“This horse just never lets us down and we’re over the moon.

“He’s not the kind of horse you could back-up a week (in the Railway) so it’s probably a blessing in disguise anyway.”

O’Connor said connections will consider paying a $22,000 late entry fee to run Freo in the Group 1 Kingston Town Classic (1800m) on December 8.

After working for stables across Europe and then Sydney, O’Connor moved to Perth about five years ago to take up a job for Ascot trainer Dan Morton.

He took out his own trainer’s licence and scored his first win in March last year with Reef Keeper.

“You work hard every morning seven days a week and to have a horse put it together as quick as he (Freo) has this prep, it’s still a bit of a shock,” O’Connor said.

Freo’s win gave McGruddy a Group 3 double after he also won the Colonel Reeves Stakes (1100m) on Durendal. “It’s unbelievable,” McGruddy said.

Freo improved his record to four wins from 15 starts.

Owner Bob Peters fears Action will miss out on making the final field in the Railway and Kingston Town.

Jockey Chris Parnham said the WATC Derby winner was looking for more ground.

Peters and Parnham combined to win the Champion Fillies Stakes (1600m) when Arcadia Queen gunned down Lady Cosmology by 1 ½ lengths.

Peters will now decide whether the quality filly backs up in next week’s WA Guineas (1600m), runs in the Kingston Town Classic (1800m) on December 1 or goes for a spell.

“It’s nice when you get the Group 3 with a filly,” Peters said.

“We thought she was our best filly and she’s done a very good job so far.

“We’ll just have to see how she pulls up and make a decision on where we go next.”

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