Marasco (Scenic--Bluegrass Belle) had been to Victoria four times previously and had been runner-up on each occasion. This time, however, it was his turn to shine as he stormed home to to win the AUS$500,000 Makybe Diva Stakes (Aus-II) over a mile.
"And I just feel so happy for the horse," said Kersely. "He is a superstar back home and he needed a win like this in a race like this to show everybody just how good he is."
Marasco, whose victory was his ninth from 17 starts, sat four lengths adrift of his main rival and constant nemesis Apache Cat until halfway down the Flemington straight. At that point, his first-time rider Darren Beadman applied the pressure and he slowly but surely ground out a decisive three-quarters of a length win over Apache Cat. The fast-finishing Melbourne Cup (Aus-I) hope Zipping was three lengths back in third spot.
"We'll now head to the Cox Plate (Aus-I) against Miss Finland and Haradasun," said Kersely, who has already won the Cox plate twice with his former champion Northerly.
“(Marasco’s) on track,” Kersley said. “He’s always had to carry the weight of expectation and he’s pretty much done that, although this is his first win over here in Victoria. But really he’s acquitted himself very well in all the other races here."
Before this win, Marasco’s Victorian starts had produced four seconds at Caulfield. The move to the much bigger Flemington seemed to do the trick.
Beadman, Australia's premier rider, was flown in from Sydney to ride Marasco for the first time. “He’s quality with a capital Q,” Beadman quipped.
“He’s a very relaxed horse and I had him where I wanted him and the speed was good up front. I just stalked Apache Cat all the way, I always had him, it was just a matter of when I went to him and he won pretty well."
Marasco has now won AUS$987,100.
Zipping, who was fourth in last year's Melbourne Cup, rattled home from a long way off the pace for third. He is now looming as one of the very best chances for the Melbourne Cup in November, should that race go ahead in light of the recent equine influenza outbreak in Australia.
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