Despite the stable believing Immortal Love was a superior wet tracker, the horse overcame the firm conditions at Caulfield to maintain his undefeated record with a last-ditch win in the Group Three McNeil Stakes.
Co-trainer Mick Price said Immortal Love was a three-lengths better horse on a rain-affected track after he had defeated some of Melbourne’s highest-rated three-year-olds on Saturday.
His jockey Craig Newitt timed his run to perfection and Immortal Love ($9.50) was able to defeat Flying Award ($10) by a short half-head with Tagaloa ($3.40 fav), who looked likely to win but was swamped close to the line, finishing a nose away third.
Price was surprised that Immortal Love settled so far back in the field.
He said the gelding would now press on to the Group One Caulfield Guineas (1600m) on October 10 and follow the traditional path to that race via the Exford Plate (1400m) at Flemington on September 12 and the Caulfield Guineas Prelude (1400m) on September 26.
Price and Mick Kent Junior also had National Choice, who finished ninth, and Our Playboy who finished 14th in the race.
Newitt recently returned to Victoria during the COVID-19 crisis from Tasmania and Immortal Love was his first city win for this season.
For many years Newitt was Price’s stable jockey and they were extremely successful.
Newitt said Immortal Love was terrific and travelled well after settling further back than he had planned.
“It was a top-class field, that. He’ll definitely measure up all the way through spring. He’s got a bright future,” Newitt said.
Five-year-old mare Diamond Effort continued her remarkable 2020 when she made it five win from five starts with a first-up victory in the Group Three The Heath (1100 metres).
Her trainer Clinton McDonald described her as a “ripping mare” and thanked his daughter Ally, who he said was helping him run the stable.
McDonald said he was confident Diamond Effort could win first-up although he added the strong headwind was a dampener.
He now plans to throw Diamond Effort into the deep end this campaign and her next start will be in the Group One Moir Stakes (1000 metres) at Moonee Valley on September 25.
The win gave her jockey Ben Melham a running double after he earlier won on Al Galayel.