“We have targeted this. He needed those couple of runs; he’s an older, bigger horse now. It’s been a target from a long way out and just unbelievable to pull it off.”
Diamond Effort was controversially scratched from the Manikato earlier in the night, as was wet tracker Order Of Command, after the realisation that predicted rain was not going to arrive until after the meeting.
Diamond Effort’s trainer Clinton McDonald was scathing over the firmness of the track.
“It was a [good] three before the first and the policy states the track has to be a [good] four,” McDonald said.
“I spoke to [MVRC chief executive] Michael Browell and he said the weather forecast was for 20 mils of rain.
“I said ‘it doesn’t matter if there’s 100 mils of rain’, the policy is a good four and what happens after that is in the lap of the gods.
“You can’t be punting on the weather. If you start punting on the weather, you’ll be losing every time.
“She is a mare that can handle good ground, but it’s rock hard out there and I don’t want to take the chance.”
McDonald said Diamond Effort would run next Saturday at Flemington on Derby day.
It was a night of fast times, with three track records being pushed and one being broken after the club decided to leave the track firm in the expectation of heavy rain before the Cox Plate meeting.
Written Beauty stamped herself as a horse to follow from the meeting after she broke Nature Strip’s 1000-metre record but co-trainer Wayne Hawkes played down her ability.
“I don’t think she’s quite Nature Strip’s class,” Hawkes said. “I hope she does get to that stage, but to be fair we all know the track is firm and [track manager] Marty [Synan] couldn’t do anything about it. The Cox Plate is race 17 [for the weekend] – what else can he do?”
Synan said he hoped the overnight rain was over before the first race on Cox Plate day.
“I’d like to get all of the rain out of the way by 10am,” he said. “We can handle 20mm but 30mm would be too much.
“With 40km/h winds the track will dry out after the rain, although it is expected to be a southerly wind which isn’t quite as drying. If we get all the rain through the night then I’ll be happy.”
Damien Ractliffe is the Chief Racing Reporter for The Age.