Today’s Carlton Draught Peter Young Stakes at Caulfield, to draw a footy comparison, was a bit like Gary Ablett or Buddy Franklin having a run around in a curtain-raiser.
The three Group 1s on the Blue Diamond Stakes Day card were the main fare, and carried the four premiership points if you like, but the big-name presence in the race that preceded them ensured there was almost as much interest in the earlier contest.
The Gai Waterhouse-trained star, Australia’s premier galloper in the eyes of many, was having his first start since winning last year’s Emirates Melbourne Cup.
And the six-year-old son of Monsun produced a performance that any box office star would have be proud, resuming with a win despite plenty of fitness improvement to come with a view to many Group 1 features down the track.
Damien Oliver, who secured his third Melbourne Cup aboard the entire and was back aboard today, was thrilled to see him live up to his billing.
“It’s great,” Oliver said of the win. “Now that the mare’s gone, Black Caviar, it’s nice to have a star keep standing up.
“I think he’s come back as good as he was in the spring. I wouldn’t say he’s gone up, but he’s consistently performed at the highest level since he’s been here and I don’t think he’s put in a bad run.
“He couldn’t have come back better than he has and hopefully he can keep it up for the Australian Cup and then hopefully onto Sydney.”
Fiorente had to call on all his class, and much of Oliver’s vigour, to get the job done. After settling just worse than midfield, they travelled well until the point of straightening when the Hall of Fame jockey was throwing everything at his prized mount.
Even 150m from home the $2.15 favourite looked like he was going to struggle to reel in Star Rolling and fellow Melbourne Cup winner Green Moon, who ran a huge race on the pace, but found another gear in the final 100m to get home by a short head from $151 shot Mourayan.
The margin might have been narrow, but Waterhouse cared little knowing that there is improvement to come.
“He’s a beautiful horse and they don’t often win first up over 1800 against a class field,” she said. “I think there’s lots of improvement to come.”
The Young Stakes success was Fiorente’s fifth, at start number 17, and the $132,000 winner’s purse lifted his career earnings just beyond $5.5 million.
He will look to add $600,000 to that in next month’s Group 1 Darley Australian Cup (2000m) at Flemington, in which he will be striving to become the first male horse to complete the Melbourne Cup-Australian Cup double in the same season since the latter was first run at weight-for-age event in 1979.
Hyperno and Shocking both won an Australian Cup after claiming the Melbourne Cup, but it was the following season, while Saintly won his Australian Cup before saluting in the Melbourne Cup.
Champion mares Let’s Elope and Makybe Diva are the only two horses to have won the Victoria Racing Club’s big two Cups in the same season.
Story by Brad Bishop