The Darren Weir juggernaut continues to roll on, the champion trainer landing a one-two in the Makybe Diva Stakes at Flemington to make it two out of two for the stable in group 1 races run in Victoria so far this season
But the result was not quite what most punters expected, as Weir’s four-year-old Palentino, a $9 shot, got the better of the red-hot favourite ($2.05) Black Heart Bart.
The pair fought an enthralling duel through the final 200 metres of the long Flemington straight, the younger colt getting the better of the older gelding to score by a length. The David Hayes-trained $13 shot He Or She, partnered by Craig Williams, ran right up to his best to take third place, two lengths adrift.
Now the Cox Plate is very much on Palentino’s agenda.
“I was a little worried about him in the yard, but when he jumped he probably got a pair further back than we were expecting, but he was settled and he was just going through the motions. He got a beautiful ride, and even when he got to the outside of him [Black Heart Bart] I didn’t know if he would get past him, but I thought he would test him,” Weir said.
“He was always going to be a little bit vulnerable in those first couple of runs, but he’s come on and got the job done today. This is the race he was aimed towards, and if he measured up he will obviously head towards the Cox Plate. We will have to map out a plan for that now.”
Tim Martin can’t remember his last city double, “it was probably three years ago – more maybe” but Moral Victory and Heavens Above announced the talented trainer is back. Heavens Above, runner-up in the the Queen Of The Turf during The Championships, dropped back to 1200m second-up and took out the Sheraco Stakes.
“She is just a good mare and when she finally got clear she really hit the line,” Martin said. “We know she is only going to get better as they step out in distance and I can’t wait to get her to another group 1 mile. She will go to the Golden Pendant, then hopefully back up in the Epsom and Melbourne is there for her as well.”
Tye Angland had to wait for the run to come on Heavens Above but she charged late to win by a head from Ravi, with Magic Alibi a neck back third in a blanket finish. Earlier, Clare Nutman had got Moral Victory to win first-up for Martin.
JUST TOO GOOD
Sydney three-year-olds Detective and Kentucky Miss proved too good for their Melbourne rivals at listed level at Flemington on Saturday.
Joe Pride took Kentucky Miss to Melbourne and got some black type and might spell her and look at a race like the Galaxy in the autumn.
“Thrown in with no weight on her back, I think she could measure up,” Pride said. “It’s a handicap and it’s a good race for fillies if they’re smart. That’s why I’ll be mindful of where I place her in the spring.”
A race later Detective led home a Sydney quinella, beating Tessera for a black-type success, which could have him targeting the Caulfield Guineas.
“He just kept running second no matter where I took him [as a two-year-old],” co-trainer Peter Snowden said. “Those seconds have become wins now. It’s two for two this preparation. It’s good to see him show a bit of fight, he was well-ridden and it was good to see him get a win.”