PALENTINO had to make a long run to win the Group 1 Australian Guineas at Flemington.
But that was the easy part for the Darren Weir-trained three-year-old.
A victim of a controversial protest decision in a lead-up race, Palentino had to survive an objection to keep the $750,000 race on Saturday.
In a desperate finish, Palentino ($10) edged out the Victoria Derby winner Tarzino ($8.50) who also came from well back in the field.
The margin was a short head and Tarzino’s jockey Craig Newitt claimed his mount suffered interference at the 600m as well as in the home straight.
“I would say for a good 150m before the straight I had continual brushing from my inside,” Newitt said.
Newitt said he was then forced to switch his whip hand because of further interference in the run home.
“I think there is more than a short head in the level of interference,” Tarzino’s trainer Mick Price told the protest hearing.
But chief steward Terry Bailey disagreed.
“Your mount, Craig Newitt, does come in and make contact with Palentino slightly at this point and then Palentino commences to come out,” he said.
“In our view both horses, whilst there may have been some slight contact, both horses continued to shift out.
“When we weigh all that up we’re not comfortably satisfied enough to reverse the decision.”
Former New Zealand filly Risque was being hailed the winner at the 200m but she had no answer when Palentino and Tarzino made their runs before taking the minor placing.
“He does deserve it after last week … he did it tough again today, but gee, he’s good,” Palentino’s jockey Mark Zahra said.
New Zealand star Xtravagant star started favourite and he led as soon as the field settled into formation.
The colt gave a minor kick at the top of the straight before he was swamped at the 200m.