Luke Nolen and So Si Bon return to scale (Image: Racing Photos)
Luke Nolen believes the best from So Si Bon may await after starting his spring campaign with an upset victory in Saturday's $160,000 Group 3 Aurie's Star Handicap (1200m) at Flemington.
Prepared by Lindsay Park Racing, So Si Bon ($21) settled ninth in the 14-horse field under Nolen and extended brilliantly over the final 300 metres to win by a length from Malibu Style ($6), with Sesar ($4.20 favourite) working home from his rearward position when the race was all over for third.
"We took a fresh approach and coming into the race we were quietly confident but on the day I was worried that the winter form might hold up on the Heavy track," co-trainer David Hayes said.
"However, he went through it and was fantastic. If you put a line through his form from the time he was gelded he's got pretty good form."
WATCH: So Si Bon win the Aurie's Star
But it was the way So Si Bon triumphed with conviction that caught many by surprise. It was previously unimaginable given his 27-race losing streak, which spanned from September 2016 to December 2018.
Nolen was aboard So Si Bon when he ended that losing record in the Listed Lord Stakes (1700m) at Caulfield last December and also when he almost toppled stablemate Fifty Stars in the G2 Blamey Stakes (1600m) in March.
And it was those efforts, as well as his fourth-placed finish behind stablemate Harlem in the G1 Australian Cup (2000m), that lends weight to Hayes' argument, which Nolen was keen to support.
"He's a pleasure to do anything with, since they gelded him those quirks he once had aren't there anymore," Nolen said.
"He's just a happy horse and we've been the beneficiary of that.
"He is starting to put together a profile fitting of a horse that he always promised to be, but four years into the journey.
"Horses don't lose ability, you've got to find a way to extract it out of them in a different way and I think we've done that."
So Si Bon's principle aims this spring will be the G1 Rupert Clarke Stakes (1400m) on September 28 and G1 Toorak Handicap (1600m) on October 12, both races held at Caulfield.
It's anticipated that So Si Bon will have his next start in the $1m G1 Memsie Stakes (1400m) at Caulfield on August 31
Malibu Style almost claimed another Stakes victory down the Flemington straight with Damian Lane describing his losing effort as 'super'.
"It's not easy running into that wind today but he was really tough but it's just a shame the leader (You Make Me Smile) didn't take him 50 metres into the race further," Lane said.
Sesar was beaten as favourite for the second time in as many outings this campaign but his effort was palatable in stark contrast to his sixth in the G3 Bletchingly Stakes (1200m) at Caulfield a fortnight earlier.
"He had to weave through traffic and charged late so it's great to see the horse hit the line and give us something to work with," Dwayne Dunn said, after riding the horse in race conditions for the first time.
Apprentice Lachlan King was thrilled with the fourth-placed performance of Seaburge ($91) and believes the six-year-old, who has shared non-winning tendencies with So Si Bon, is in for a good campaign.
Milwaukee ($5.50) finished fifth, unable to quicken on the Heavy 8 surface, with connections anticipating improvement on a drier track. His next run is likely to be in the G2 Bobbie Lewis Quality (1200m) at Flemington on September 14.
Oohood ($16) settled last and passed half the field home for seventh when resuming ahead of her second-up race in the Memsie Stakes, while Reykjavik ($6.50) raced up on the pace minus cover and faded into eighth, with rider Linda Meech believing her mount required cover in the windy conditions to show his best.
WATCH: Hear from the beaten jockeys