lovemyself is likely to be Sydney bound on the back of an outstanding debut performance at Flemington on Saturday, the exciting colt set to tackle some of the country’s best juveniles in the Group III Pago Pago Stakes in two weeks’ time.

Ilovemyself - image Grant Courtney

Ilovemyself – image Grant Courtney

And he has certainly earned the right to do so, being so impressive overcoming trouble in running when taking out the Listed Festival Stakes.

Slowly away, the handsome son of Ilovethiscity settled down midfield and from the 500m it was obvious that he was travelling better than his rivals… but from that stage he was stuck amongst them with nowhere to go.

Same at the 400m, the 300m, the 200m!

And what was Damien Oliver thinking at this stage?

“I asked him how his heart was at the time and he said the same as your’s!” said owner and breeding Neville Murdoch.

But in typical Oliver style there was no panic and when the gap did appear late Ilovemyself charged through it… “he just went bang!” Murdoch said.

Trainer Greg Eurell was feeling the tension as well – “the heartbeat started to get a lot stronger when he couldn’t get any room… but he is a very tough horse and it was just a matter of hoping that the line didn’t come up too quick.”

And fortunately it did not and in the end it was a soft win for Ilovemyself although his 3/4 length winning margin did not adequately reflect the ease with which he went to the line.

“He quickened up nicely when the gap came,” Oliver reported, adding that in regards to finding trouble in running “it helps to have a horse travelling as well as he was!”

“He is a lovely horse,” he continued, “and he has a good future.”

“We’ve always had a pretty big opinion of him,” Murdoch – who bred Ilovemyself at his picturesque farm, Larneuk Stud just out of Euroa.

“His trials were good but you do want to see him do it on the track.”

No worries about that now and Murdoch is looking forward to seeing what Ilovemyself can do in even stronger company.

As is Eurell who feels that the 1200m of the Pago Pago “will suit even more” than the Flemington 1000m.

Racing is all about dreaming and should Ilovemyself win the Pago Pago… well he is not nominated for the Golden Slipper but there is always the late entry clause!

In the meantime Murdoch is excited about Ilovemyself’s siblings, the former New Zealander Starspangled Rodeo (winner of three in a row at the start of his career) now in Sydney whilst Cluster Of Stars is spelling having caught the eye with a fast finishing third at debut.

Ilovemyself’s dam Sunstyle also has a “lovely” Cluster yearling filly whilst her 2019 colt by fellow Larneuk Stud stallion Wolf Cry is, according to Murdoch “absolutely outstanding.”

Not in foal this year Sunstyle has proven quite the bargain for her owner whose friend Lindsay de Souza (part owner of triple Gr.1 winner Turn Me Loose) was at the 2014 Inglis Australian Broodmare Sale looking at mares in foal to Teofilo.

“I was on a plane at the time but when I got off I had a message from Lindsay saying I now owned a Xaar mare called Sunstyle.”

And for how much? A bargain basement $700!

“She is a lovely mare who puts such a nice foal on the ground,” Murdoch said, adding that a return visit to Ilovethiscity is on the cards.

And how did this eye-catching chestnut get his name?

“His stable name has always been Greggy so I joked with Greg that I’d name the horse after him!”

Eurell grimaced at the memory – “I remember Neville telling me that he had a good name for the horse – Ilovemyself – and I thought nothing more of it… “but then the papers came through and I thought ‘he got me!'”

Eurell hopes however that it is a name we hear much more off, as does Murdoch who said “I think we are in for a good ride!” – story by Kristen Manning