Another feature race and another winner to freak trainer Chris Waller, this time with Preferment causing an upset in the Group II Ascend Sales Trophies Hill Stakes (2000m).
The Victorian Derby winner of 2014 was unwanted in betting due to the soft going, but Waller’s magic touch can do no wrong at present, with Hugh Bowman lifting the four-year-old son of Zabeel off the canvas to defy Godolphin’s duo of Magic Hurricane and Complacent.
Sam Clipperton did some work to find the front on recent Chelsmford Stakes winner Complacent ($4.20 fav), with the big field stretched right out around the Randwick back straight.
Bowman had made a long sustained run aboard Preferment ($21) from the 800-metre mark, hitting the front 300-metres from home, but no sooner did he take control than James McDonald chimed in aboard Magic Hurricane ($4.80).
The pair fought out a classic battle, Magic Hurricane gaining the clear upper hand only for Preferment to fight back and prevail by a neck. Complacent held down third place, beaten one length.
“It was a smart ride,” Waller said. “He got going at the right time.
“He’s already proven in Melbourne so we could go down for the Turnbull (Stakes) or stay here for the Craven.
“At this stage we will take the Caulfield Cup route into the Melbourne Cup rather than the Cox Plate. As long as we end up at Flemington on the first Tuesday in November.”
Bowman deserves credit for a brave ride, getting going early and finding the preferred going out wide in the straight.
“2000-metres is his best distance,” Bowman said. “I’ve always had a high opinion of him. To perform like that on soft ground, which isn’t his ideal going, he has a big spring ahead of him.”
The victory of Preferment gave Waller a quartet of winners for the day and his third successive Hill Stakes after taking out the 2013 edition with Moriarty and the 2014 version with Junoob.