Tagaloa’s Blue Diamond Upset

Hanseatic almost overcame a series of 11th-hour setbacks to remain unbeaten but was denied by Tagaloa in Saturday’s $1.5 million Group 1 Neds Blue Diamond Stakes (1200m) at Caulfield on Saturday.

Ridden by Michael Walker, Tagaloa ($26) sustained a three-wide on-pace run to defeat Hanseatic ($2.60) by a head.

Personal ($26) settled three back on the inside and after being held up early in the straight, switched course to flash home along the inside rail for third, a further three-quarters of a length away.

The Diamond victory provided trainers Trent Busuttin and Natalie Young their first Australian G1 winner since relocating from Cambridge in New Zealand to Cranbourne in mid-2016.

And it was fitting that Tagaloa provided the training pair with a significant juvenile winner considering the colt was their first Australian two-year-old winner at The Valley back in November.

That victory was the moment which provided Busuttin and Young, in conjunction with Walker, with the belief Tagaloa could measure up at the elite level.

“I can’t believe it, I’m a bit of an emotional wreck to be honest,” Young said.

“To train a Group 1 winner in Australia, it’s been eluding us for a little while but it’s unbelievable and thank you to everybody who has supported us.”

Tagaloa resumed by finishing fourth, beaten 1.5 lengths by Hanseatic, in the G3 Blue Diamond Prelude (1100m) for colts and geldings on February 9.

Walker was adamant following the run that Tagaloa would be the horse to beat two weeks later and Busuttin also revealed he drew confidence from the performance.

“We knew he was soft (in fitness) but we didn’t realise how soft,” Busuttin said.

“I’m usually quite pessimistic, if they get beat, they get beat, but we only had to make up 1.5 lengths with the winner (Hanseatic) and I knew we had a couple of lengths improvement in us.”

Walker said the victory contained plenty of sentiment given he’d always wanted to win the Blue Diamond Stakes – Victoria’s premier two-year-old race.

“I’m so happy that I could ride a big winner for Trent because I rode for his dad (Paddy) when I was 15 (years old) in Singapore so to keep the ties with his family is really good,” Walker said.

“He’s a top-class colt that’s only going to get better with age.”

Busuttin agreed with Walker that the son of Lord Kanaloa will improve as a three-year-old but quipped: “If he wins the Golden Slipper he won’t be around next season.”

Tagaloa will have his next start in the $300,000 G2 Todman Stakes (1200m) at Rosehill on March 7 ahead of the $3.5m G1 Golden Slipper (1200m) at the same venue on March 21.

For Hanseatic, the final 24 hours of his bid for Blue Diamond victory resembled the plot of a horror movie. Barrier one was the least of his worries as it turned out.

Hanseatic’s regular rider Luke Currie fell at The Valley on Friday night and was ruled out due to injury. Then the son of Street Boss was held up en route to Caulfield Racecourse, his arrival delayed by 25 minutes.

Tim Clark replaced Currie as rider of Hanseatic and gave the Godolphin colt every chance in difficult circumstances, getting him clear galloping room with 300m remaining.

David Hayes was delighted with the performance of Personal, with the first of nine fillies across the line almost certain to run in the Golden Slipper.

Magic Millions Classic winner Away Game ($10) finished fourth after covering plenty of ground outside the speed and was the first of six horses trained by Ciaron Maher and David Eustace.

Rulership ($6.50) failed to live up to market expectations, finishing eighth. A post-race vet check revealed the colt to be lame.

– racing.com

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