Trainer Mick Price’s Victoria Derby drought has ended with Tarzino giving his rivals a staying lesson in the $1.5 million race.
A clear-cut favourite, Tarzino ($2.90) settled midfield before starting his run at the 800m and joining the leaders on the turn.
Etymology ($13) claimed second with West Australian three-year-old Kia Ora Koutou ($6.50) taking the minor placing.
Price’s best previous Derby result was a second with Kempinsky in 2003 and he admitted he was a nervous spectator as Tarzino reached the lead.
“At the top of the straight he was the one you wanted to be on but he was going to hit the front too early,” Price said.
“It was a long way up the straight. I was looking for the post but he was too strong.”
Jockey Craig Newitt broke a frustrating run of outs in winning the Classic.
“He’s just an out-and-out stayer who has got class written all over him and he just gave me the perfect ride today,” Newitt said.
The Derby was run at a strong gallop with the outsider Iron Boss taking up the lead role from Shards.
Tarzino was eighth in the running line with Etymology making his bid to the winner’s inside while Kia Ora Koutou was shuffled out when the field bunched.
Newitt allowed Tarzino to cruise up to the weakening leaders and he quickly put a two-length margin on the runner-up and held his advantage to the finishing post.
Waterhouse wins Lexus Stakes
Earlier, the Gai Waterhouse-trained horse Excess Knowledge earned automatic entry into the Melbourne Cup, winning the Lexus Stakes after a protest.
The horse, ridden by Dwayne Dunn, beat Zanteca in a photo finish, with the Saeed Bin Suroor trained Havana Cooler and the John O’Shea trained Elhaame third and fourth respectively.
Bohemian Lily led early, with the Darren Weir-trained Zanteca, Chance To Dance and Ruling Dynasty close at hand.
There was not much change until close to the turn, when the James Cummings-trained High Midnight hit the front briefly, before Excess Knowledge moved to the lead in the straight.
Elhaame came down the outside and looked a likely winner, but his run died and Excess Knowledge was left to fight it out with Zanteca, who came through on the fence to finish just short.
“I said I can’t train him any better, any more,” Waterhouse told Channel Seven after the race.
“The final furlong, I thought, oh, no, I have never ridden a horse so hard in my life. I’ll probably be pulled in front of the stewards.
“It was a great staying performance, trapped out.
Asked if he would win the Cup, Waterhouse replied: “Yes he will. Back him!”
Even as she was speaking, however, a protest was being lodged by Zanteca’s connections, claiming obstruction in the last 200m.
“Weighing it all up, in our view, the thing we are grappling with is the fact we don’t believe your mount, for whatever reason, doesn’t lose any ground and with 150 to go, to have an uninterrupted run to the line so we’d be loath to change the placings in close circumstances and dismiss the objection,” chief steward Terry Bailey said.
Excess Knowledge now joins Waterhouse’s other horse The Offer in the Cup. Bookmakers brought Excess Knowledge in from $61 to $15 for the Cup.
Gailo Chop holds off Rising Romance to win Mackinnon
In the Group One Mackinnon Stakes (2,000m), there were no Melbourne Cup entries in the field, but international horse Gailo Chop made up for a poor run in the Cox Plate with a great battling win.
Gailo Chop, trained by Frenchman Antoine de Watrigant for investors OTI Racing, had come eight out of 14 runners behind runaway winner Winx in the weight-for-age classic at Moonee Valley last Saturday.
This time round he took control of the race from 600m into the race and kept the field at bay.
As the field closed in halfway down the straight, Gailo Chop kept going.
Rising Romance and Contributer came at Gailo Chop in the closing stages, and Rising Romance hit the front briefly before Gailo Chop rallied along the fence to regain the lead with 75m to go and hold on for the win.