Crossing The Abbey a first for Tim Hughes

Monday 1 January 2018, 2:23pm

Trainer Tim Hughes has picked an opportune time to land his first metropolitan victory.

Crossing The Abbey won the first race of 2018 in Melbourne when she took out the New Year Plate (1000m) at Flemington on Monday.

Hughes only has three horses in work but does pre-training and breaking-in for larger stables, including Mick Price.

Ridden by Craig Williams, Crossing The Abbey ($4.40) held on to score by a nose from the $4 favourite Khulaasa with Graceful Star ($7) 3-1/4 lengths away third.

Crossing The Abbey had race experience up the Flemington straight having finished fourth behind Magic Millions hopeful Nomothaj in the Maribyrnong Trial Stakes in October.

Hughes admitted to nerves before Monday's race.

"My whole stomach was churning," Hughes said.

"I did a blood from her and the white cell count was a little elevated so going into something like this is a big thing for a two-year-old filly.

"I pulled her out of the paddock and was really concerned for a while."

But Hughes also knew he had a bigger, stronger version of the filly that first graced Flemington last year.

"She put on around 35 kilos following her debut run which is quite a lot for a little two-year-old," he said.

With Crossing The Abbey giving the Pakenham trainer his first city win, Hughes is hoping the filly can take the next step and give him victory in a stakes race.

The filly is among nominations for the Group One Blue Diamond Stakes at Caulfield on February 24.

Hughes said he was likely to test the waters in the Group Three Blue Diamond Preview at Caulfield on January 27.

"We'll see how she pulls up from this but we'll look at Caulfield for her next start," he said.

– AAP

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