Shot Of Irish and Plein Ciel have fought out a thrilling finish to the Travis Harrison Cup at The Valley, with the pair unable to be separated at the end of 1600m.
Jockey Michael Walker tried to control Saturday’s race in front on $2.60 favourite Shot Of Irish and the in-form galloper kicked around the turn with Plein Ciel ($8.50) emerging from just in behind the leader to give chase in the straight.
Plein Ciel was wearing down Shot Of Irish with every stride over the concluding stages under Billy Egan and lunged late to finish in a dead-heat for first.
Mask Of Time was four lengths away third.
Shot Of Irish had won two of his past three starts on heavy tracks in Melbourne and was coming off a last-start second at Flemington.
His trainer Richard Laming admitted he thought Plein Ciel might have overhauled him on the line before the photo finish showed a dead-heat so he was happy with the result and said the gelding turned in another gallant performance.
“He looked like he was going to get headed but he fought back to dead heat,” Laming said.
Seven-year-old Plein Ciel was having his second start since being transferred to the Danny O’Brien stable after a close third over 1400m at Flemington first-up last month.
O’Brien’s assistant trainer Ben Gleeson said Plein Ciel’s performance on Saturday, his first time racing at The Valley, again indicated the gelding was in for a good preparation.
“It’s good to see him come back second-up and assert himself as a horse in form and we’ll take that today,” Gleeson said.
“To bring him here to a track that’s unknown to him and to perform like that, there’s so much upside this preparation.”