Adelaide’s premier trainer Phillip Stokes has begun the Melbourne Cup carnival with a Group Two victory on Derby day at Flemington.
Stokes produced four winners during last year’s four-day carnival highlighted by a Group One victory with Hucklebuck in the Emirates Stakes.
On Saturday, Eclair Choice put the stable on the board when he led all the way to win the tab.com.au Stakes (1200m).
The trainer also has three-year-old filly Comprende set to contest a Listed race on Tuesday and plans to have two runners on Emirates Stakes day next Saturday.
Eclair Choice dead-heated for first in the Group Two Caulfield Sprint last start but got the victory outright on Derby day when he defeated Hot Snitzel by three-quarters of a length with his Peter and Paul Snowden-trained stablemate Dothraki a half-neck away third.
Stokes said Eclair Choice would head to the paddock and could be aimed at the Oakleigh Plate in the autumn.
“He jumped well and made his own luck and he’s a tough horse to get past,” Stokes said.
“This was his grand final. He’s done a great job this preparation and kept improving.”