Owner Nick Williams happily admitted his judgment was astray after Excluded brought some minor spring cups into sight with his win in the Catercare Group Handicap at Moonee Valley on Saturday.
Williams had made it clear earlier in the week that he believed the bookies had got it wrong when they made Excluded a $3 favourite for his second-up run.
The prominent owner tweeted that the price was “ridiculous” and bore no relationship to the horse’s chances.
Either Excluded is a better horse than he thought, or the opposition was weaker, but the son of High Chaparral had the race in his keeping halfway up the Valley straight when jockey Craig Williams set out after the leaders.
Excluded, the $3.10 favourite, duly grabbed the lead 30m out to score by a long neck from Philda ($4.40) with a 1-1/2 lengths to Sea Galleon ($31) in third.
Despite having witnessed an impressive victory, Williams remained less-than convinced of Excluded’s superiority.
“I didn’t think he had any chance,” he said.
Williams said he based his opinion on Excluded’s strong first-up effort when fifth at Flemington two weeks ago.
“Sometimes they find it difficult to repeat those runs second-up.
“But he’s done the job better than I expected him to.”
The win gave Excluded’s rating a useful boost that Williams said should earn him a start in some country cups during the spring.
“It seems as though every horse in the world is coming here, so he’ll need a better rating to get into those races,” he said.
Confusion reigned earlier in the day as three horses hit the line together in the Listed Carlyon Stakes (1000m), eventually won by Broken ($14).
As they passed the post, the Canberra-trained Unanimously ($5) gained the verdict by a short half-head from Broken with a half-neck to Umgeton in third place.
But 30m from home Unanimously had veered sharply to the right, interfering with Umgeton ($21) and allowing Broken to take a rails run.
Umgeton’s rider Craig Newitt protested, but with none of the trainers of the first three present at Moonee Valley the debate was left to the jockeys.
Newitt’s argument that he should have won clearly was accepted by the stewards, but the race went to Broken, the second horse across the line.