Mark Kavanaghâ€™s joy after Whobegotyouâ€™s win turned to disappointment in the very next race when Cats Whisker was run down by Zarita in the Group II Stocks Stakes (1600m) at Moonee Valley.
Cats Whisker was able to get across from her wide gate to sit on the outside of the early leader, the Tony Noonan-trained With Apologies.
Steven King took Cats Whisker to the front at the 300 metres and looked the winner on the home turn when Zarita was hung up in traffic and the raceâ€™s other main threat, Gallica, weakening after a tough run.
Zarita got into clear running at the 100 metres and launched herself at the line, grabbing Cats Whisker to win by a nose in a race Zaritaâ€™s jockey Dwayne Dunn said was a crucial one in the mareâ€™s spring campaign.
â€œIf she hadnâ€™t have won today, she would have been in trouble for the rest of her preparation,â€ he said.â€œBut this time in sheâ€™s had a turn of foot instead of being dour like she was next time in.â€
For the winning trainer Pat Hyland, Zaritaâ€™s win in the Stocks Stakes presents him with a slight headache in determining the daughter of Pentireâ€™s next run.
â€œIâ€™m not quite sure whether sheâ€™ll tackle the Cox Plate or the Caulfield and Melbourne Cup,â€ he said.â€œThe owner is on holidays but weâ€™ll decide what to do when he comes back.â€
Soul Diva showed her first glimpse of form for the spring, coming from a midfield spot to finish well for third place.
The placings and margins: Zarita (D Dunn) 57kg ($3.50 fav) defeated Cats Whisker (S King) 57kg ($3.80) by a nose with a length back to Soul Diva (R Stewart) 57kg ($10) in third place.
Winnerâ€™s breeding â€“ Zarita is a five-year-old mare by Pentire (GB) out of Gin Player (NZ) (Defensive Play (USA)).
The time and sectionals â€“ The field covered the 1600 metres in 1.37.09 seconds with the last 600 run in 33.02 seconds.
What they said â€“ â€œShe hates being crowded but once she got into daylight she flew,â€ said Dwayne Dunn, winning rider of Zarita.
â€œA terrific effort. It took a decent horse to beat her,â€ said Steven King, rider of Cats Whisker (2nd)
â€œExcellent effort for further,â€ said Nick Hall, rider of Soul Diva (3rd)
â€œVery good. She had the box seat but stuck on really well,â€ said Steven Arnold, rider of Marchelle Belle (4th).
â€œSheâ€™s flying. We just need to find a race to get her black type. She deserves it,â€ said Craig Newitt, rider of Running Riot (5th).
â€œTerrific run. Sheâ€™ll be hard to beat at 2000 metres,â€ said Craig Williams, rider of Leica Ding (6th).
The market â€“ Zarita opened at $3 before easing to $3.50. Cats Whisker opened at $4 before firming to $3.80 while Soul Diva was friendless in betting, opening at $26 before drifting to $51. Gallicaâ€™s wide barrier didnâ€™t deter punters; she firmed from $8 to $7. The market closed at 113 percent.
Image by Steve Hart