Lord Belvedere (outside) edges out Alfarris in the Banjo Paterson Series Final (Image: Racing Photos/Natasha Morello)
Jockey Ben Melham took the first two races at Flemington on finals day with two completely different rides after a perfectly-timed run to win the Banjo Patterson Series Final (2600m) to make it back-to-back wins aboard Lord Belvedere.
"It was a really, really beautiful ride that from Ben," said co-trainer Dave Eustace said after Lord Belvedere came from well off the speed mid-race to pick up the game Alfarris late.
"He timed that to perfection and he is a horse that is definitely on the up.
"As I said last time, he’d had a year off and got colic and everyone did a great job in getting him back. There’s improvement to come."
Melham settled Lord Belvedere in third place but some distance from the leading pair Alfarris and Sasko with the second favourite Chapada taking the sit behind him.
While Chapada went up the inside to stake his claim, Melham wound up Lord Belvedere down the outside and he just did enough to tip Alfarris out of the major prize.
Just 35 minutes earlier, Melham won aboard Sense Of Honour after leading up on that filly and rating her perfectly.
It was Melham’s 45th win in Melbourne for the season and comes as the rider prepares to defend a series of illegal betting charges early next season at the Victorian Racing Tribunal.
Lord Belvedere, a $2.80 favourite, held a narrow margin over Alfarris ($8) with early leader Sasko ($6.50) in third place.
Eustace said Lord Belvedere could play a part in the spring if he continues his form.
"There is a 2800-metre race in two weeks and he’s in form," he said.
"There’s not a lot of depth in these races at the moment. Unless he tells us otherwise I’d say he’ll go to that. Then we can just reset a little bit for the spring so the team have done a great job getting him back in form.
"He’s probably not a horse that want to run every two weeks all the time but, as I say, these races aren’t strong at the moment.
"I don’t think he had the hardest race (today). We were a little bit concerned about the ground but Ben rode the winner of the first and said it wasn’t too bad. That filled us with confidence."