Fawkner returned to the scene of his greatest triumph when taking out the Caulfield Stakes on Saturday.
It was 51 weeks ago that Fawkner provided owner Lloyd Williams with his first Caulfield Cup and a year on it might be the same horse to provide the owner with a first Cox Plate.
Ridden by Nick Hall, who won the Caulfield Cup aboard the gelding last year, Fawkner ($5.50) scored by a long-head over Criterion (Hugh Bowman, $16) with last year’s Mackinnon Stakes winner Side Glance (Jamie Spencer, $26) a length-and-three-quarters away third.
The $4 favourite, Dissident, finished sixth after racing handy to the speed but bled, incurring an automatic three-month ban from racing.
Nick Williams said Fawkner was clearly the best horse in their Mt Macedon stable having made the step up from being a handicapper to a weight-for-age horse.
“Its 51 weeks since he won the Caulfield Cup,” Williams said.
“He’s come back here and beaten the majority of what he’s going to have to beat at Moonee Valley.
“I think he has shown that necessary rise in grade from being a handicapper to a weight-for-age horse and it’s very exciting to have one of them in your stable as they are very hard to find.”
Williams praised the ride of Hall.
“It was a wonderful ride,” Williams said.
“I wasn’t saying it was a wonderful ride when they were coming around the side.
“I could see him sitting there on the rail and I thought he could have ended up last by the time he got out, but Nick knew what he was doing.”
Hugh Bowman was buoyed by the performance of runner-up Criterion saying it was a great run while Jamie Spencer on Side Glance also said his charge ran well.
“He’s not getting any younger,” Spencer said.
“As usual he gave it his all and went down fighting.
“He set a good pace, a bit different to the Mackinnon last year where he went slow.
“I just hope like last year that after a run he’ll be better for it.”
Zac Purton, a fast-finishing fourth aboard Sacred Falls, said the draw cost him victory.
“It was always going to be hard from that gate.
“Unfortunately I had to go all the way back. Had I drawn barrier one or two I probably win it today.
“The Cox Plate, we’ll be right there.”