A cameo spell in the opening four race races at Seymour on Thursday saw jockey Brett Prebble land a something of a mismatched double.
First up was the horse no one gave much thought to, High Excalebration in the $23000 Avenel Equine Hospital maiden over 1200m, and then two races later with the heavily-backed Crimson Ace over 1400m in the $23000 JBL Catering Plate.
In the second, High Excalebration was having his first run after a spell but with only one race in its career – a fifth at Moe – it was not over-exciting punters or commentators.
Her recent trial form had been average and that garnered some optimistic support but her price fluctuated from 11/1 in early markets before officially jumping at 9/1 with bet365.
Out of the gate Prebble got his ride into a good fourth behind the pacemakers while they jockeyed for the lead.
They stayed that way until the turn for home when Prebble took High Excalebration in a gutsy run four or five wide as he tried to corral the leaders.
But it paid off – as they straightened for the run home he was in front and extending his lead with every stride.
Before anyone could react, High Excalebration had stolen a match-winning break and left clean air between her and the field.
Mornington trainer Jerome Hunter said at her only other start High Excalebration had been trapped five wide for most of the run and was still a bit immature.
So he said they put her out and gave her a good spell (of six months) before two trials at Cranbourne.
Running on a soft five track certainly didn’t slow her down and he said if you looked at the trials you should have thought she would be pretty competitive in maiden.
‘‘She’s a horse that will settle nicely anywhere and doesn’t need to be right up on the speed.’’
Prebble agreed and said he probably rode her a bit closer than he might have originally wanted.
‘‘It was good to have her trailing the speed and on the turn as we went wide she got a little bit lost and I had to get her mind back on the job but she extended well and I think she will definitely go a bit further,’’ he added.
But if his first win was a little unexpected, in the fourth race punters only wanted two horses – Prebble’s 3/1 ride and the 2/1 favourite Spilia.
Crimson Ace had been as short as 5/2 but did drift a little just before post time.
The race also had some drama as the horses were being loaded — Thriving having its first start and refusing to go into the gate.
The huge three-year-old gelding got just halfway into its chute when it backed out and took off without its rider and crashed through several sections of the running rail to get away from the track and was immediately scratched.
Crimson Ace was caught wide in the middle of the field early but Prebble quickly worked his way forward to be sitting right outside the leader Recycle.
With Spilia trapped in a pocket around the turn Prebble gave Crimson Ace her head.
She left the field flat-footed and at the 200m it simply seemed a matter of how far until the favourite finally got into the open and Luke Nolen had the three-year-old gelding flying.
But even though Crimson Ace was slowing Prebble had judged the distance perfectly and held off Spilia to win by more than a length.
Busuttin and Young stable representative Sam McLeod said a muddled race like this one is where it paid to have the good jockeys on your horse.
‘‘It was a good ride, it got caught a little bit wide but when the pace slackened Brett had the initiative to sit outside the leader and that move probably won him the race,’’ McLeod said.
‘‘That’s what you get when you have the best riders on – they make the good moves at the important times.
Prebble said he felt Crimson Ace had been the best horse in the field.
‘‘She jumped really well and I did want to be able to ride her a bit more quietly but I had to take the second option and go forward because the pace was going too slow,’’ he added.
‘‘She’s a lovely horse to ride, really pleasant and she stood there as quiet as a lamb and was first out of the gate – a real pleasure to ride.’’