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Sesar has emerged as a genuine Group One contender during the winter carnival

Improving colt Sesar has emerged as a genuine Group One contender during the winter carnival after winning the Group Three Ken Russell Memorial Classic on the Gold Coast.

Sesar ($15) provided jockey Brad Pengelly with a lucky late pick-up ride when he finished strongly on Saturday to win by three-quarters of a length over Boomsara ($5.50), with Lean Mean Machine, the $2.80 favourite, 2-1/4 lengths away third.

Pengelly replaced Paul Hammersley, who was forced to miss the meeting due to illness, which also cost him a win aboard Denbern in the opening race.

Trainer Steve O’Dea said Sesar had earned a shot at the Group One JJ Atkins Stakes (1600m) at Doomben on June 9.

“The way he won today the Sires at Doomben in three weeks time then onto the JJ Atkins is definitely on the radar for him,” O’Dea said.

Sesar has impressed O’Dea with his improvement since finishing seventh at his debut at Doomben in March.

“I thought he had a good chance today if there was plenty of pressure on up front. Brad was able to take advantage of those runs when they presented on the inside and he lengthened out well,” O’Dea said.

Sesar set a race record of 1.08.67 for the Classic, eclipsing the previous mark by 0.13 seconds, which was set last year by Taking Aim.

“He’s only lightly raced but is definitely on an upward spiral and he’s only going to keep improving,” O’Dea said.

 
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