For the second successive time at Flemington, emerging stayer Exemplar has left his more highly-fancied stablemate South Pacific in his wake, leading throughout to win the TAB Handicap.
The 2530m victory has prompted co-trainer David Eustace to aim the seven-year-old son of Galileo at the feature spring staying races.
Eustace said now Exemplar had won two distance races in a row at Flemington, they would look to gain a spot in the Melbourne Cup by winning The Bart Cummings (2500m) at the track on October 3.
The horse will run again at Flemington on September 12 before The Bart Cummings.
Eustace pointed out that four starts ago, Exemplar finished third in a maiden hurdle at Warrnambool during the May carnival when he was expected to win.
He said it was stable foreman Declan Maher and his team at Ballarat that had started the turnaround in the seven-year-old’s form.
“These stayers, it’s a long process to get them right and it’s a great thrill just to see them racing really, really well,” Eustace said.
Exemplar was ridden by John Allen, who suggested the horse would be “very competitive” in races such as the Bendigo and Geelong Cups.
South Pacific was sent out an odds-on favourite but after sitting outside Exemplar he was the first horse beaten and tired to finish sixth in the seven-horse field .
Eustace said South Pacific changed legs when the sprint went on and he suggested something could be amiss.
Exemplar ($7) defeated Double You Tee ($4.80) by 1-1/4 lengths with Bertwhistle ($11) another 3-1/2 lengths away third.