Dissident the best of the best

Dissident staked his claim for Australian Racehorse of the Year honours on Saturday at Randwick, outlasting a crack field in the All Aged Stakes to collect his fourth Group 1 of the season.

The four-year-old, who also won the Memsie Stakes, the Makybe Diva Stakes and CF Orr Stakes, finished his racing career in perfect fashion and added even more value to his stud profile.

In a race featuring some of the best horses in Australia, Dissident sat off the early pace before staging an epic battle with Wandjina down the Randwick straight and prevailing narrowly, jockey Jimmy Cassidy celebrating as he crossed the line. The $3 favourite Chautauqua was third.

Caulfield trainer Peter Moody was beaming with pride after the race.

“He’s never got the accolades this colt, he’s raced in Group level from day one. He won his first start, won his last. You’re mad if you don’t send a mare to him,” Moody said.

“It’s very fitting – I’ve had the pleasure of retiring three Group 1 winners – Typhoon Tracy, Black Caviar and Dissident. The first two were ‘horse of the years’ – this bloke has put his hand up to be number three. I’m really proud of him.”

It completed a perfect day in Sydney for Moody, who had three winners from three runners, including both Group 1s.

Hi World claimed the Group 3 Frank Packer Plate while Pasadena Girl took out the Group 1 Champagne Stakes.

“It doesn’t get much better than that,” Moody said.

“Pasadena Girl was the 50th (Group 1 winner) for my stable. So a massive thanks to my owners, the last 15 years has been a wonderful ride. It’s tremendous.”

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Champagne celebrations for Pasadena Girl

Pasadena Girl stamped herself as the front-runner for the Spring classics with a strong victory in the Group 1 Champagne Stakes at Royal Randwick on Saturday.

The two-year-old filly keeps exceeding the expectations of trainer Peter Moody, recording her third win in four starts – all at black-type level.

Sent out a $2.80 favourite, Pasadena Girl went back early as Jason Warren’s The Barrister set a solid tempo, before swooping down the outside late for an impressive win, beating Street Rapper and Tarquin.

In an ominous warning for her rivals, Moody thinks she’ll be even better in the Spring.

“She just continues to surprise so anything’s possible,” the Caulfield trainer said.

“She’s a Flight Stakes/Thousand Guineas-type filly and then you look at the Wakeful and the Oaks. I think she’s certainly got that scope ahead of her.

“She’s a little gem.”

Moody didn’t expect the pint-sized daughter of Savabeel, who cost just $25,000 at the Inglis Premier Sale, to come up this quickly.

“When I purchased her I expected her to be going to the races this time next year so she’s surprised us,” he said.

“She’s got an unbelievable attitude towards racing and towards her work for a little filly.

“It was probably only the heavy ground that cost her the Sires’ (Produce) the other day.

“She’s buttered up for the fourth time here and probably presented bigger and stronger on each occasion even though she’s only a pony. It’s only upwards and onwards from here for her.”

It completed a double for the stable after Hi World, ridden by Kerrin McEvoy, captured the Group 3 Frank Packer Plate earlier in the day.

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No injury, no worries for Politeness

After an injury-interrupted preparation, Politeness showed she’s back to her best with a terrific display in the Listed Bel Esprit Stakes at Caulfield on Saturday.

Settling just worse than midfield, jockey Dwayne Dunn pushed clear early in the straight and the mare let down strongly, storming over the top to beat Thermal Current and Gregers.

Politeness, who paid $13, was meant to race during the Sydney Carnival but a hoof injury halted those plans.

Trainer Robert Smerdon admits it was a frustrating period as the stable waited for the mare to come right.

“It was one of those unfortunate incidents, she was in the wash one morning and moved sideways, stood on one of her shoes with another so she pulled a plate off and then drove a nail into her foot,” Smerdon said.

“It was two steps forwards and one step back. Sometimes they get over them quickly, but hers has taken longer.

“I was confident she’d run well without being confident she would win the race.”

Politeness will now head to Morphettville for the Group 1 Robert Sangster Stakes in a fortnight.

“Once we had to revise the preparation, we looked at Adelaide,” he said.

“She’s a multiple Group winner but we want a Group 1. The Sangster is her opportunity.”

The win completed a double for the Smerdon stable, after Fontein Ruby taking out the $250,000 VOBIS Gold Reef. She will also chase Group 1 glory in Adelaide, tackling the Australasian Oaks in two weeks.

Dunn also collected a brace after prevailing on Sunday Escape earlier in the day.

The second win temporarily gave him in a share of the lead at the top of the metropolitan premiership, but Craig Williams pushed one clear after taking out the last with Amorino.

There’s a three-way battle at the top with Williams on 41 wins for the season, just ahead of Dunn (40) and Damien Oliver (39), who rode in Sydney on Saturday.

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Criterion’s crushing Queen Elizabeth success

David Hayes and Tom Dabernig can mount a case to having the best horse in the country in their stable following Criterion’s stunning win in Saturday’s Queen Elizabeth Stakes at Randwick.

The four-year-old, who was formerly prepared by David Payne in Sydney, achieved a new career peak when he trounced a world-class field in the $4 million event over 2000 metres.

The son of Sebring’s job was made easier when favourite Contributer was scratched on the eve of the race, but it would have taken some effort from the Godolphin import anyway given the form Criterion displayed in his dominant win over Red Cadeaux and Royal Descent.

“It was nice to win a really big one,” Hayes said. “Getting horses in big races is why I built the place (at Euroa) and they are just starting to pop up more regularly now and running well.

“I won this race 20 years ago with Jeune. They are both high-class horses and we’re so excited to have a horse of this ability. It’s a real honour.”

Criterion completed a remarkable rise to prominence since joining Hayes and Dabernig after his fifth placing in the Mackinnon Stakes on Victoria Derby Day last November.

At his first start for Lindsay Park he finished third in the Hong Kong Cup (2000m) and two Queen Elizabeth lead-up runs this campaign produced a third in the Canterbury Stakes (1300m) and narrow second in the George Ryder Stakes (1500m).

Criterion ($5) was nosed out in the latter by Japanese galloper Real Impact, who finished second in last week’s Doncaster Mile, but he atoned with a 2-1/2-length win.

Red Cadeaux ($21), who encountered trouble gaining a clear run in the first half of the straight, logged yet another major second placing in Australia, finishing 1-1/4 lengths in advance of Royal Descent ($9).

“We were really confident today,” winning jockey Craig Williams said. “David told me to ride him like the best horse, I rode him positively and confidently and from there I just had to cuddle and kiss him. He did the rest.”

Criterion’s stablemate, Australian Cup winner Spillway ($17), was fourth, while Tosen Stardom ($9) was the first of the Japanese runners home, in fifth spot.

Japan’s other representative, $3.90 favourite To The World, failed to beat a runner home, while Cox Plate winner Adelaide ($5.50, seventh) was never a factor in his first run for Chris Waller.

Criterion is now likely to be given another shot at Hong Kong success, to head over for the QEII Stakes on 26 April if he pulls up well, while Hayes said he is also contemplating a trip to Royal Ascot for the entire.

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Waller Marshals another Sydney Cup

Improving stayer Grand Marshal completed the transformation from Melbourne Cup support-card winner to Group 1 champion with victory in the $1.6 million Sydney Cup at Randwick on Saturday.

A little more than four months after he won the $100,000 Visit Victoria Plate (2800m) on the day Protectionist won the Melbourne Cup, the Chris Waller-Grand Marshal proved too strong for a field that included that German import.

The British-bred galloper turned in a resolute performance to wear down stablemate Who Shot Thebarman and score a thrilling win in the 3200-metre event.

Waller said the rise in trip was the key for Grand Marshal, who finished third in the Group 2 Chairman’s Stakes on Monday, but he was just happy to see the stablemates settle down to fight it out.

“A two-mile race is a different complexion altogether,” said Waller, who won his first Sydney Cup in 2011 with Stand To Gain.

“Who Shot Thebarman was getting a dream run following Protectionist and then to see Grand Marshal storm home down the outside, it was pretty good.

“It is something special when the two stablemates fight it out.”

Grand Marshal, a son of Dansili, produced a sustained burst to come from near the rear and round up his rivals.

Who Shot Thebarman, who ran third in the Melbourne Cup behind Protectionist, looked the winner at the 200m but was nabbed in the final stride by Grand Marshal ($41), who won by a half-head.

Victorian stayer Like A Carousel – the $151 outsider of the field – ran the race of his career to finish third, six lengths away.

Hartnell, the $1.65 favourite, led but weakened in the straight to finish fourth, although he reportedly pulled up lame, while Protectionist was under pressure from the 700m and only battled into seventh position, beaten almost 16 lengths.

“He was really disappointing,” jockey Craig Williams said of Protectionist. “We got into a nice position and I thought this is what he needed, a bit more give in the track out to this distance, but at the 1000m I didn’t have a horse and I was gone.”

Waller’s success wasn’t confined to Randwick, with the champion trainer producing Hong Kong recruit Silverball to win the Ross Stevenson Trophy at Flemington.

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