He was purchased to be a replacement for Group 1 winner Alcopop and Gris Caro has lived up to that billing by winning the Listed Balaklava Cup (1600m) in a thrilling finish this afternoon.
Jockey Dom Tourneur, who was the regular rider for Alcopop, timed his run perfectly by sending Gris Caro to the front at the 150 metre mark and the gritty four-year-old was able to stay on gamely and hold off fast finishing stablemate Dextox who flew home from the tail of the field.
The victory capped off a remarkable training performance by Jake Stephens who set the French import for the Balaklava Cup despite the fact that he was competing in Australia for the first time and had never previously raced over a mile.
Tony Vasil-trained roughie Baby Boy produced the best run of his career to finish third while the highly fancied Whitten’s Delight and Penny Edition Stakes winner Golden Penny finished seventh and tenth respectively.
Gris Caro had a fair record in France before coming to Australia, recording an impressive victory in the Listed Prix Georges Trabaud before finished third behind Lidari, who is now under the care of Peter Moody, in the Listed Derby Du Languedoc.
The With Approval entire finished ahead of Chris Waller-trained import Lunayir in the Listed La Coupe De Marseille but flopped as favourite when he stepped up to Group 3 level for the first time in the Prix Andre Baboin.
Stephens purchased Gris Caro on the recommendation of Melbourne Racing Journalist Michael Sharkie and, although he originally had trouble selling shares in the talented four-year-old, has now assembled a large ownership group included many of the same people who had a share in Alcopop.
Gris Caro still has plenty of work to do to replicate the feats of Alcopop who was victorious in the 2009 Group 2 Hebert Power Stakes (2000m) and 2012 Group 1 Mackinnon Stakes (2000m) after winning the 2009 edition of the Balaklava Cup.
Alcopop also finished second behind Dunaden in the 2012 Caulfield Cup (2400m) and finished sixth in the 2009 Melbourne Cup (3200m) after starting the race as favourite.