Just Fine (-133.33) was backed as if unbeatable in the Group 1 Metropolitan, but there would have been a few stressful moments in the home straight for favourite backers as he just got the better of roughie Spirit Ridge (+4000) in the final strides.
After very impressive wins at both of his first two starts in Australia, the ex-European opened as a very short favourite with most online bookmakers on Wednesday and held favouritism with very little movement all day on Saturday.
The son of Sea The Stars settled behind the speed in the box seat, as Spirit Ridge took the running, but when the leader kicked clear on the home turn there would have been some worrying moments for the connections of the favourite, who took a while to level up with the roughie.
However, under the urgings Rachel King, Just Fine proved too tough and too classy for his rivals, defeating Spirit Ridge by a long neck and Kalapour (+2000) who was over three lengths back in third place.
Gai Waterhouse & Adrian Bott claimed two Group 1’s on the day and Adrian Bott spoke post-race about Just Fine’s win.
“Fantastic, I’m delighted for the horse, for everyone involved, there’s a lot of people,” Bott said.
“Hopefully it’s a popular win, glad we were able to deliver.
“Thrilling finish, I wasn’t sure we were going to get the upper hand. It was tough, well done to the horse.
“He just continues to improve and go the right way for us and he opened up more options for him today staying that trip.”
Rachel King joined Kathy O’Hara as two female riders won Group 1’s on Epsom Day, and she spoke post-race.
“I think that proves he stays 2400m,” King said of the winner.
“Funny when I spoke to Gai (Waterhouse) this morning, not that I had a question mark about the 2400m but a question mark people had.
“I just mentioned that and she said ‘Where was this horse born?’ I said ‘England’ and she said ‘Exactly, your hometown. Of course he’ll stay’.
“It was very special, Kathy (O’Hara) was the first person to come up next to me and give me a fist pump and I couldn’t have been happier to see her win the Epsom (on Rediener).
“Spirit Ridge (2nd) got it pretty comfortable in front and I was aware that he’s a horse that really does stay.
“I wanted to give my bloke as easy a time as possible and not give him too much work to do. Luckily once he got his nose in front he was very tough.”