Palentino flew home from the tail of the field to record a narrow win over Tarzino in a thrilling edition of the Australian Guineas at Flemington this afternoon.
Palentino was settled at the tail of the field in the early stages of the Australian Guineas and looked to be over racing, while Xtravagant took up the running as expected and made sure that they race was run at a very genuine tempo.
Xtravagant gave a kick at the top of the straight and looked as though he had the majority of his rivals off the bit, but he knocked up badly in the 150 metres and Risque, Tarzino and Palentino all stormed down the outside.
Risque hit the lead first, but Palentino and Tarzino finished stronger and Palentino stuck his neck out at the right time to record an outstanding victory.
Palentino lost the Group 3 CS Hayes Stakes (1400m) a fortnight ago in a very controversial fashion and the owners of the Teofilo colt went through a sickening case of déjà vu when Craig Newitt lodged a protest.
Newitt argued that Palentino had brushed up against his mount on a number of occasions over 150 metres and he believed that interference cost Tarzino the victory.
“Approaching the 600 metre mark with the horses rolling around in front of me, I elected to come out and side up around Mark Zahra, who was situated behind Damien Oliver,” Newitt said.
“It wasn’t until I got a head on him that he then wanted to come out from behind Damien and I would say for a good 150 metres I had continual brushing from my inside and following that Mark Zahra was fully in behind Damien Oliver, who then rode his mount out and in turn bumped my mount again, which forced me to put the whip in my right hand to keep my mount straight.
“I believe that without the two lots of interference, especially the point of impact where I started to make my run, I think I definitely beat him home for sure.”
Zahra admitted that Palentino and Tarzino came together at the 200 metre mark, but he was quick to fire back that the interference was extremely limited and in no way effected the result of the Australian Guineas.
“Craig Newitt came around me and was trying to ride me in a pocket,” Zahra said.
“He was tight into me and we brushed then, but I was still behind Damien and I don’t think I hit him hard or took his momentum away.
“Later on in the straight Craig Newitt actually shifts in on top of me and makes a slight brush slightly after entering the straight.”
Racing Victoria Chief Steward Terry Bailey came in for a great deal of criticism following the stewards decision to award Tivaci the CS Hayes Stakes on protest, but to the delight of the connections of Palentino he dismissed the protest on the grounds that the initial contact was not the fault of Zahra and the second point of contact was caused by both horses.
“Approaching the 600 metre mark we do believe that Mark Zahra was inconvenienced at that point, we believe because of a slight shift out by Damien Oliver’s mount Jameka, which in our view contributes to the interference,” Bailey said.
“We go into the straight and in our view Craig Newitt’s mount does come in and make contact with Palentino at this point and then when Palentino commences to come out in our view both horses continued to shift out.
“Weighing all that up, we are not comfortably satisfied that there is enough there to reverse the decision, so the protest is dismissed.”
Risque hung on in the final stages to finish third, while Gai Waterhouse-trained River Wild made up plenty of ground late to finish fourth.