Whispering Brook (Image: Racing Photos)
Darren Weir didn't expect Whispering Brook to improve upon her fantastic first-up record on Saturday, but she did.
Weir voiced his reservations pre-race and Whispering Brook drifted from $5 to $8 before closing at $7.50 for the $100,000 School Holiday Program Handicap (1100m) at Flemington.
The Patrick Payne-trained Invincible Al firmed from $5.50 and started $4.60 favourite.
But the market trends were defied as Whispering Brook settled close to the pace and fended off the trademark late-closing effort of Invincible Al to win by a head.
Invincible Al's stablemate Husson Eagle ran third a further half neck away while Whispering Brook's stablemate Native Soldier finished fourth.
Whispering Brook has raced first-up on six occasions for four wins and a second.
"Obviously she's a high-class mare and has got a great first-up record," Weir said post-race.
"But I've been watching her at home and thinking that she's still got a bit to come. She looked soft in the yard to me and sweated up a bit."
Whispering Brook and Native Soldier are expected to have their next starts in either the Listed Christmas Stakes (1200m) at Caulfield on December 26 or G3 Standish Handicap (1200m) at Flemington on January 1.
It's worth noting that Native Soldier won the G3 McNeil Stakes (1200m) at Caulfield second-up last campaign and Weir therefore may lean towards the Christmas Stakes with the son of Sepoy ahead of the $2 million Magic Millions Guineas (1400m) at the Gold Coast on January 12.
"Whispering Brook will be going to stud next year so it's important that we win Stakes races with her and improve her record," Weir said.
"It was a pass run (from Native Soldier). I thought Craig (Williams) just looked after him for as long as he can and he just blew out a bit late.
"If Native Soldier gets the same run in the same race next time around I think he nearly wins."
Apprentice Nathan Punch described Invincible Al as being 'beaten by a better horse on the day'.
Invincible Al has been ridden by Punch on five occasions for one Flemington win and four city placings.
Weir won four races at Flemington on Saturday, with $31 outsider Crafty Devil the final leg of his successful quartet.