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Dark Eyes wins first up for the lethal combination of Darby & Waterhouse

Brenton Avdulla’s aggressive riding style came to the fore today at Canterbury as he booted home Snitzel 3YO 'Dark Eyes' to victory in the CAFE CULTURE + INSITU HANDICAP (1250 METRES).

Formerly trained by Peter Moody, Dark Eyes ($8.50) was having his first start for Waterhouse coming off two searching trials, the latest when ridden out at Randwick to split Group I winners Pride Of Dubai and Press Statement.

Once the gates opened, Avdulla had to work hard to get Dark Eyes outside the Kerry Parker-trained leader Eagle Stryke and the pace remained on throughout.

Godolphin’s well supported race favourite Art Nouveau ($3.30) drove through a split after box-seating and momentarily looked the winner, but Dark Eyes fought doggedly and managed to withstand the fast finishing Gerald Ryan-trained runner-up Bubbleberry ($7.50) and Clarry Conners' third placegetter Captured ($16).

The margins were a half-neck by a short-half-head with Art Nouveau beaten half-a-length into fourth.

"Not once did I think I was going to win the race apart from about the 50m mark,” Avdulla said.

"I was positive away, not once was I comfortable. The track has probably raced a bit on pace so I was told to go forward.

"I was beaten about five times halfway up the straight but to his credit when they got around him he was all bone and muscle and the Gai Waterhouse polish kicked in.

"There’s no reason he won’t get further and it’s good to get him off with a win today.”

The win gave Avdulla a treble on the Canterbury card, his recent switch to freelance riding being rewarded with winners for John Sargent, Chris Waller and Waterhouse.

Darby Racing and trainer Gai Waterhouse have combined sensationally well since kicking off last year purchasing yearlings with 5 race starters for 3 winners a 2nd and a 3rd including the undefeated and Slipper bound SCARLET RAIN.

Dark Eyes looks a very tough competitor and I'm sure many more wins are in store.

Congratulations to all his owners

Mr P Ingerman, Mr C A London, Mr M Jones, Mr K Delmenico, Mr P J Taunton, Mr G R Hunt, Mr S F Lawrence, Mr C S Lawrence, Mr M J Kayem, Mr L J Gore, Mr G F Doyle, Mr N Lal, Mr D R Murray, Mr P Q Conroy, Mr J L Conroy, Snitzelation syndicate

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