Harlem received ballot-exempt in the 2017 Caulfield Cup field following an excellent win in the 2017 Naturalism Stakes at Caulfield this afternoon.
The well-backed Stampede took up the running in the early stages of the Naturalism Stakes ensured that the race was run at a genuine tempo, while Harlem was able to track the leader into the race.
Stampede kicked clear when he was asked for an extra effort at the top of the straight, but Harlem cruised up to his rival and he put a gap on the field in the final stages of the 2017 Naturalism Stakes.
Dwayne Dunn gave Harlem an absolute peach of a ride in the Naturalism Stakes, but he was quick to pay credit to the horse and he argued that the win was even more impressive than it looked to the naked eye.
“I had an absolutely perfect run,” Dunn said.
“From barrier one I was mindful that I didn’t get shuffled too far back and I had to let him roll up underneath.
“He didn’t relax for me until we got to the top of the hill and then he settled down beautifully.
“I knew Gai’s horse would give some sort of kick, but he presented really well.
“He is just a typical import and he will keep getting better.”
Co-trainer Ben Hayes was always confident that Harlem would prove very tough to beat in the Naturalism Stakes and he believes that the imported galloper will go into the Caulfield Cup as a genuine contender.
“We have always really liked him,” Hayes said.
“His run in the Heatherlie was excellent and he arguably could have finished second if he had luck.
“It was a great ride by Dwayne today and everything went right.
“We were actually worried before the race about drawing barrier one and we could have been unlucky, but it all went to plan and he won very dominantly.
“We actually thought this might be on the short side for him today and to see him do that was excellent.
“It is very exciting and look out Caulfield Cup.”
Samovare finished second in the Naturalism Stakes to complete a Lindsay Park quinella, while Stampede was able to tough it out to the finish for third.