A Darren Weir-trained runner looked set to take out the Group I Futurity Stakes at the 100m mark but it didn’t look like it was going to be the horse most punters wanted.
Japanese-bred galloper Tosen Stardom had peeled out from behind the leaders and fought his way to a narrow lead at the 100m, forcing his stablemate to decide whether he wanted another Group I win.
However, Black Heart Bart relished the challenge. The $1.90 favourite lifted late to nail Tosen Stardom ($17) on the line to record his fifth win at the highest level and fourth Group I win at Caulfield.
Black Heart Bart’s jockey Brad Rawiller said the race didn’t pan out as expected with the nominal leader Turn Me Loose beaten out of the gates by the Sydney galloper Ecuador, which left the WA-owned galloper further back in the field than anticipated.
“It didn’t work out like I thought with Turn Me Loose pushing forward,” Rawiller said.
“I was worried when I was one pair further back and not really getting a great cart into the straight.
“I thought we’d win when we straightened but the second horse Tosen Stardom, he’s a very smart horse and he’d had the perfect run.
“It took this bloke’s heart that we know he’s got to get up and win. He’s a winner.”
Weir said he was unsure whether Black Heart Bart would head to Sydney or chase a second Group I Goodwood (1200m) in Adelaide in May in which the top galloper would compete for $1 million in stakes under favourable weight terms.
“There is some thought of The Goodwood as it’s gone to $1 million now and it’s a quality handicap,” Weir said.
“He would get 59 or 59-and-a-half kilos so maybe he could freshen up for that or we may go to Sydney.”
Weir said Tosen Stardom would head to Sydney for races during the rich autumn carnival.
Ecuador, who firmed from $12 to $10, boxed on gamely for this second consecutive Group I third placing in Melbourne
Race days don’t get much better than Saturday for the connections of Oakleigh Plate winner Sheidel.
The gutsy mare raced on the pace throughout to record her maiden Group I win but also completed a Group I double for trainers David Hayes, Ben Hayes and Tom Dabernig and owner Robert Crabtree, who combined for victory with Catchy in the Blue Diamond Stakes.
Joao Moreira had been aboard Sheidel in her last win at Flemington during the spring carnival and was confident enough to send the daughter of Holy Roman Emperor to the lead early in the $500,000 feature.
Sheidel led to the turn but had her stablemate Faatinah, who headed the winner briefly, for company until the 100m before easing clear late to score by a length.
“I’d say probably a neck (in front). But that proves she’s got a big heart even if she is quite small,” Moreira said.
“She just kept running and attacking the line.”
Sheidel eased from $6 to $8 in the official prices but David Hayes said the market could have underestimated the quality of Sheidel’s second to Takedown in the Group I Winterbottom Stakes (1200m) at her previous start in November.
“We were really confident with her,” Hayes said. “I think that Perth form is really under-rated. She was just spot on and she really put the run up.”
Dabernig said he remained confident in Sheidel throughout the race, even when Faatinah launched his challenge early in the straight.
“She really deserved it. She has been narrowly beaten in a couple of Group Is and today, she travelled and never looked like she was going to get beat,” Dabernig said.
“It really takes your breath away, it was amazing to watch.”
Three-year-old Extreme Choice started as the $3.70 favourite and hit the line well to finish third, a little over a length from the winner.
Hayes said the Group I Newmarket Handicap (1200m) loomed as Sheidel’s next assignment while Extreme Choice’s trainer Mick Price said he could target the same race with the dual Group I winner.