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Mourinho has survived a late surge from the favourite Fawkner to win the Group One Underwood Stakes at Caulfield.

In a finish involving three greybeards of Australian weight-for-age racing, Mourinho ($18) almost ruined his chances by drifting off the track at the 200m.

Fawkner, the $3.40 favourite, dived late with The Cleaner ($7.50) rallying to take the minor placing after looking beaten on the turn.

The placegetters are eight-year-olds but winning trainer Peter Gelagotis said age would not be a barrier to Mourinho taking his place in next month’s Cox Plate.

Mourinho was a controversial omission from last year’s race.

“He won’t be missing out this year,” Gelagotis said.

Jockey Vlad Duric made his move at the 500m and Mourinho swept into the race to challenge The Cleaner.

But just when he looked set for a clear-cut win, Mourinho wandered to the outside, allowing Fawkner to pick up valuable late ground to take the decision to a photo.

“I was in panic mode the last furlong and if he didn’t run off the track he would have won a lot more easily,” Duric said.

New Zealand star Mongolian Khan finished fourth in an eye-catching run after the ATC Australian Derby winner missed the start.

 
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