Improved underfoot conditions were the key to Milford returning to winning ways in the Gr.3 Eclipse Stakes (1800m) at Caulfield on Saturday.
The son of Savabeel was given an economical ride near the pace by Blake Shinn and the former New Zealand Derby runner-up pounced when presented.
Successful in the Gr.3 Easter Cup (2000m) on the course earlier this year, Milford had been unplaced in his previous run in the A$2 million Five Diamonds (1800m) at Rosehill but trainer Michael Moroney said the five-year-old had legitimate excuses.
“If you watch his run in Sydney in the Five Diamonds he copped a battering from pillar to post and got one right in the ribs and set off towards the outside fence right on the corner, but he picked himself up and ran home,” Moroney said.
“But the ground was too wet for him so getting back on better ground was the key to him. A couple of runs ago he travelled up like the winner but his wheels began to spin so it was really just a change of ground today.”
Milford has proved particularly effective at Caulfield, which generally drains well, but the Melbourne course will be out of action for at least the next six months as renovations continue at the soon to be two-track venue.
Moroney indicated the Listed Lord Stakes (1700m) at Sandown on Boxing Day could be a target for Milford.
“He's just hitting his straps now but we've got to consider the autumn to a degree too and just see what there is for him, it's now sit down and think time for him and let's work it out.
Milford began his career with Cambridge trainer Stephen Marsh and won the Listed Gingernuts Salver (2100m) during his three-year-old career, while he was also runner-up in the Gr.1 New Zealand Derby (2400m) won by Rocket Spade before joining Moroney’s operation.
Bred by Waikato Stud, Milford was a $360,000 New Zealand Bloodstock Yearling Sale purchase by agent Bruce Perry on behalf of Lib Petagna’s JML Bloodstock.
He is out of the unraced O’Reilly mare Etiquette and she is a sister to the four-time Group One winner and ill-fated sire Sacred Falls.
Milford’s three-year-old brother Savoir Faire finished fifth in the Listed Trevor & Corallie Eagle Memorial (1500m) at Te Rapa on Saturday.