The Ranvet Stakes showdown between Fiorente and It’s A Dundeel didn’t eventuate but it might have announced the arrival of two new stars in Silent Achiever and Carlton House.
While the two favourites failed to live up to expectations, Silent Achiever and the Queen’s horse exceeded them.
Group One-placed in England, Carlton House had under-performed at his first three Australian runs but he rose to the occasion in the Ranvet, kicking clear in the straight as Fiorente and It’s A Dundeel struggled to give chase.
It was left to New Zealand mare Silent Achiever to provide the theatre of a thrilling finish.
She set out after Carlton House and her last-ditch dive was enough to secure a half-head victory, rated by trainer Roger James as one of his most significant wins.
“This is right up there with my biggest thrills in racing,” James said.
“Look at the past winners of this race, look at the field she’s struck today. It’s been billed as the race to determine the best horse in Australia.”
James needs to decide whether to target the Queen Elizabeth Stakes or Sydney Cup, both run on April 19.
That call will be made after the mare runs The BMW in two weeks.
Silent Achiever’s Ranvet win was some consolation for a spring campaign which promised much but ended in disappointment when she was injured before the Melbourne Cup.
John Messara, owner of It’s A Dundeel, said his horse lacked his usual zip in the Ranvet.
“He just didn’t quicken like we know he can,” Messara said.
Fiorente finished seventh with trainer Gai Waterhouse insisting he needs more distance and a patient ride.
However, she was thrilled with the effort of Carlton House.
“It has taken a year for me to get him back so it was very pleasing,” she said.
Some competitive riding between Damien Oliver on Fiorente and James McDonald on It’s A Dundeel prompted scrutiny from stewards.
McDonald shunted Oliver wide as the field jostled for positions in the early stages, forcing Oliver to stride forward, bumping It’s A Dundeel on the way past.
“It’s a Group One race and there appeared to be a bit of a Group One battle going on,” chief steward Ray Murrihy told the jockeys.