ACE HIGH proved to be the superior stayer in the AAMI Victoria Derby.
The David Payne-trained galloper was installed at the top of the market by most bookies after Tuesday’s barrier draw and although drifting out to the $7 mark on raceday, proved too strong in the end.
Ace High, ridden by Tye Angland, scored by two lengths over SULLY with ASTORIA third.
The big tip around the track throughout the day was for WEATHER WITH YOU and GREYCLIFFE, however, the pair failed to stay the trip while TANGLED didn’t have much luck in the straight but appeared to have his chance once clear.
SHOALS, the $4.80 favourite, made use of the feather weight to take out the Group One for Anthony Freedman and Dean Yendall.
The three-year-old filly carried just 50kgs and after sitting outside the leader Global Glamour, fought off the challengers down the Flemington straight to score by a narrow margin over ECKSTEIN which started at $41 and attracted good eachway support.
Consistent Sydney mare DIXIE BLOSSOMS was close up in third just in front of PROMPT RESPONSE in what turned out to a great finish.
GLOBAL GLAMOUR and SILENT SEDITION were the disappointments from a punting perspective as each had significant backing but failed to live up to expectations.
One of the most impressive wins of the day went to MERCHANT NAVY.
The Aaron Purcell-trained runner zoomed his way through runners over the concluding stages down the Flemington straight, showing a great turn of foot late to gun down INVINCIBLE STAR which looked all over the winner.
There was very little separating the pair with FORMALITY running a cracker for third while the eye-catcher went to LIMESTONE which was rattling home as the widest runner for fourth.
A lot of punters were on Invincible Star which firmed up significantly throughout the day from around $8 to start a $6.50 favourite.
VIRIDINE, CATCHY, TRAPEZE ARTIST and KEMENTARI were all out of the placings with the latter three especially disappointing as they were beaten by seven lengths or more.
CISMONTANE showed that typical tough Waterhouse & Bott polish to lead throughout in the Lexus Stakes (2500 metres) and earn himself a spot in the Melbourne Cup.
Leading throughout, Cismontane was challenged strongly by Geelong Cup winner VENGEUR MASQUE in the straight and appeared headed at one point, however, fought back doggedly to win in a thrilling finish with outsider PENTATHLON third.
Cismontane was a big drifter on the day from single figures out to $16 at the jump.
Most of the money in this race was on HARLEM from the David Hayes & Tom Dabernig stable. The Naturalism winner was sent out favourite but after having every chance, was beaten a fair way out and finished over seven lengths from the winner.
KELLSTORM was another that had good money for trainer Darren Weir but the import was being scrubbed up a long way out and didn’t run on.
The only real movement from a Cup perspective was CISMONTANE.
Punters could have secured as much as $151 about the gelding prior to his win in the Lexus Stakes with that price well and truly gone now.
Bet365 have Cismontane at $51 with several corporates not far off that mark either.
Defending Cup champion ALMANDIN is at the head of betting and you can secure between $7 and $8.50 at most places about his chances. Interestingly, William Hill have HUMIDOR as the $8.50 favourite in their market.
Have we found a challenger to Aloisia in the Oaks?
If LUVALUVA’s win in the Wakeful Stakes is anything to go by then the Oaks won’t be turning into a one-horse race like many were expecting.
Bookies reacted to the John Sargent-trained filly’s win by pushing her price from $13 into $7 (TAB) to take out the Oaks on Thursday afternoon.
ALOISIA did get pushed out slightly from $1.60 to $1.70.
Wakeful favourite BRING ME ROSES has blown right out in the betting after finishing eight lengths behind Luvaluva.