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Flemington trainer given reason to smile shortly after narrow Group 1 defeat

Tofane narrowly missed out of a fairytale farewell in Sydney, but Mike Moroney was able to console himself with victory in the $200,000 Group 3 Easter Cup (2000m) at Caulfield.

Just 20 minutes after Magic Millions National Broodmare Sale-bound Tofane was run down by Cascadian in the Group 1 All Aged Stakes at Randwick, Milford prevailed in a gripping length-of-the-straight duel with Holbien.

With Moroney in Sydney to watch Tofane, it was left to Glen Thompson to represent the stable at Caulfield and the assistant trainer said the son of Savabeel was much more tractable as a gelding.

“He’s done really well all prep and held his condition well,” Thompson said.

“His two runs leading into this were outstanding and he really flew under the radar.

“It just looked like he was crying out for the 2000 metres and he showed that today.”

Milford made use of the inside barrier to enjoy a lovely run behind the speed, which was set by Holbien, before popping off to challenge when a run presented itself rounding the home turn.

The four-year-old, who was specked at double-figure odds before starting $8.50, challenged Holbien ($14) strongly early in the straight, only for his fellow Flemington gelding to kick back and it was only in the final stride that he got his head down to score.

The winning margin was a nose with two lengths back to third placegetter Mandela Effect ($91).

It was just he second career win for Milford, who won at Listed level over 2100m in New Zealand as a three-year-old, and winning rider Patrick Moloney said looming up so early might not have been to his advantage.

“He had a bit of a think about it,” he said. “He’s only won one race in his time, so he had a good think about it when he hit the front.

“He stargazed a bit, but good to get the job done on this horse who I’ve been on him last start and followed him through so it is good to get the job done for Mike.”

Disappointment of the race was $2.60 favourite Pondus, who enjoyed a lovely run just behind the speed but was beaten before straightening and finished eight, 6-1/4 lengths from Milford.

“Had a lovely run but he didn’t come up underneath me when the pressure came on like he usually does,” Pondus’s rider Michael Dee said.

“Possibly he could be feeling a little bit flat or tired from recent racing but certainly he was well below his best.”

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