All the talk was about First Seal and Sweynesse leading into the Spring Champion Stakes, but afterwards it was all about Hampton Court.
The two favourites settled down to a battle inside the 300m mark but Hampton Court ($16) had the drop on the pair, drawing away to beat First Seal ($2.15) by 2-1/4 lengths with a neck to Sweynesse ($2.80).
In the process, Hampton Court became the second Gai Waterhouse-trained horse on Saturday to lower the long-standing 2000m track record.
Hampton Court recorded 2:00.30, a few races after Order Of The Sun ran 2:00.36 to beat the mark of 2:00.43 set by Dignity Dancer in the 1998 Spring Champion Stakes.
With Waterhouse and her stable jockey Tommy Berry in Melbourne for Caulfield Guineas day, the ride went to the popular Josh Parr whose only other Group One winner was aboard Skilled in the 2010 Champagne Stakes.
“I have been doing a bit of work for Gai,” Parr said.
“With Tommy in Melbourne I was in the right place at the right time.
“Once I balanced up I knew I had the drop on them and he worked hard.”
Jason Collett rode First Seal in his attempt to win a first Group One with Flight Stakes winning jockey Blake Shinn committed to Godolphin’s Sweynesse.
“She wasn’t that comfortable quite a way out and Hampton Court had the drop on us,” Collett said.
“But to my filly’s credit it was a tough effort to hold out Sweynesse.”
Shinn said Sweynesse lacked a little seasoning.
“The pace was strong. At the 600 (metres) First Seal wasn’t going anywhere so I had to put him in the race,” he said.
“At the 300 I was counting my money but he just couldn’t go on with it. He probably lacks that bit of seasoning but he will develop into a really nice racehorse.”
Waterhouse said from Melbourne the Victoria Derby in three weeks was a possibility for Hampton Court if he pulled up well.
Paddock rest awaits First Seal who backed up from her Flight Stakes win a week ago and impressed trainer John Thompson with her effort in defeat.
“Sweynesse ambled up to her and she fought him off but then it set it up for a swooper to come,” Thompson said.
“She ran really well but will have a rest now.”
Panzer Division ($9) took the field along early but was found wanting in the straight.
“The instructions were to lead and break their hearts, but ours was broken,” jockey Tye Angland said.