ASTRIDE will attempt to pull off a rare Gold Crown Carnival double on Saturday night - adding a Gold Chalice trophy to his win as a two-year-old in last year's Gold Crown final.
Since the Bathurst Harness Racing Club’s annual carnival added the three-year-old Gold Chalice feature to its program in 2000, only three horses have claimed the trophy after a Gold Crown success story.
Victorian training duo Jayne Davies and Noel Alexander were the first to celebrate the colts and geldings double with Soho Valencia.
With champion reinsman Chris Alford in the gig, he won the 2011 Gold Crown then the Gold Chalice a year later.
Michael Formosa's Ultimate Art (2012-13) and Artistic Flite (2014-15), who had a stable change between his wins, also pulled off the feat.
Now Astride has the chance to join that club.
While Luke McCarthy drove him to victory in last year's Gold Crown final, younger brother Todd was in the gig behind the colt when winning Monday's Gold Chalice heat (2,260 metres) at the Bathurst Paceway.
It was an exciting finish as the $2.10 favourite from Craig Cross' stable battled all the way down the home straight with Conviction ($2.60).
“He raced super today. He had to come around and cut the breeze and do it a bit tough too,” McCarthy said after the 1.3m win.
“We’ve got a lot of respect for Conviction too, so to sit outside him and do what he did, I’m really happy with that."
Astride and Conviction were a class above their rivals as they put almost 30m on the chasing pack, the winning mile rate a 1:55.7.
With Amanda Turnbull, who won the 2014 Gold Chalice with Mighty Gift, guiding Conviction three-wide early, the son of For A Reason took the lead at the 1,500m mark.
Astride rolled up on his outside as the bell sounded, paving the way for a battle between the two favourites.
After a 58.5 seconds first half, the pair shot away from the chasing pack into the bend, third-placed Megs Monaro 15m behind them.
That margin had blown out to 20m as they balanced in the home straight and went neck and neck to the line, Astride finally shaking his rival with 40m left.
The three following heats were run in slower time, but that did not bother Turnbull as she claimed victory in all of them following the narrow defeat by Astride.
She sprung an upset for her brother Josh with $16.30 chance Lockton Luck (1:59.5), got the job done on $1.10 favourite Atomic Red (1:57.9) for her father Steve, then completed the treble with Nathan Jack's $2.20 favourite Wardan Express (1:58.6).
The $50,000 Gold Chalice final, which holds Group 2 status, will be run on Saturday night.