Polanski, a horse that cost $4,000, has provided a fairytale result on Derby Day, winning the Victoria Derby at Flemington.
The three-year-old bay colt, trained by Robbie Laing and ridden by Hugh Bowman, hit the front early in the straight and rode the 2,500m out strongly to win from Complacent and Thunder Fantasy.
The win was Bowman’s third Derby win in the last four years.
Polanski had trailed early on but Bowman made his move in the second half of the race, bringing Complacent and Criterion with him.
The jockey was able to keep Polanski running out the trip – the colt increased his margin over Complacent to three lengths on the line, with Thunder Fantasy passing Criterion to take third.
Bowman, whose wife is about to give birth, was delighted with the win.
“I would just like to give all the credit to Robbie Laing and his team,” he told the Seven Network.
“You know, he’s a wonderful trainer. And he couldn’t have turned this horse out any better.
“I took a lot of confidence out of the ride I had on him at Caulfield two weeks ago. I knew he would stay the distance.
“Of the three Derby winners, this guy is the strongest.”
Laing who along with owners paid $4,000 for the horse, acknowledged the story behind Polanski’s win.
“Yeah, (it’s) an absolute fairytale,” he said.
“He showed great ability as a young horse. Every time we raised the bar with him, he jumped it.
Also on Saturday, two international horses won the last tickets to race in the Melbourne Cup, with Ruscello taking out the Lexus Stakes and Side Glance winning the Mackinnon Stakes.
The winners of both races pass the ballot to get into Tuesday’s big race, but only Ruscello will run after Side Glance’s connections opted to rest him.
Side Glance was racing a week after running in the Cox Plate at Moonee Valley, where he finished sixth.
In a slowly-run race, jockey Jamie Spencer took Side Glance to the front and held on down the straight to beat the fast-finishing Dear Demi with Moriarty in third.
Dear Demi’s run was a strong Cup trial, with the horse making up lots of ground on the fence in the final 200m.
“I’ve ridden him since I’ve been retained by the Sheikh (Sheikh Fahad Al Thani) – I couldn’t get him to drop it, so he gives you the confidence to maybe change things,” Spencer said after the race.
“He (Side Glance) was a bit keen. And I think the reason he wanted it because Craig (Williams) didn’t crucify him last week in the Cox Plate when things didn’t go right.
“It’s probably down to him as much as anybody else. He did pull very, very hard last week and he looked pretty relaxed early but when you got around the 1600, you let him stride along.”
Trainer Andrew Balding was delighted with the horse’s performance.
“My concern was obviously running so soon after as we’re not used to it in Europe. But it obviously did the job to switch him off a little bit,” he told the Seven Network.
“This is his first Group One win and he’s come close in some of the best races in Europe and America.”
The David Hayes-trained Jet Away – which needed to win to qualify for the Cup – ran favourite, but finished out of the placings.
Earlier, Ruscello led all the way to win the Lexus (2,500m) for trainer Chris Waller and jockey Kerrin McEvoy.
Ruscello edged out Let’s Make Adeal by a short neck with Araldo 1 1/2 lengths back in third.
And Jim Cassidy reached a rare milestone in Australian racing when he became just the third man to post 100 Group One wins.
Cassidy was aboard Zoustar in the Coolmore Stud Stakes and won by two lengths from Not Listenin’tome with Lion of Belfort third.
Only George Moore (119) and Roy Higgins (108) have ridden more Group One winners, putting Cassidy in elite company.
“All the owners and trainers who have supported me, I thank them from the bottom of my heart,” Cassidy told the Seven Network.
“And to (trainer) Chris Waller, the opportunities he’s given me the last couple of years, I can’t thank him enough.”