Bartholomeu Dias (Image: Racing Photos)
Many punters were surprised by Bartholomeu Dias winning the $125,0000 Sir Eugene Gorman Handicap (1600m) at Flemington on Saturday and co-trainer David Eustace conceded that even the stable hadn't 'worked out' the European import.
Winter Championship Final fourth placegetter Dice Roll was expected to atone in Saturday's race but after racing three wide minus cover, was no match for the swooping Bartholomeu Dias, who won by 1.25 lengths under apprentice Teo Nugent.
Hi Stranger raced underneath Dice Roll for much of the race and ran second, a nose ahead of Dice Roll, who stayed on admirably under the circumstances.
"We thought he would run well, I can't say we thought he would win," Eustace said. "He is an enigmatic horse, he has taken a while to work out.
"We probably haven't fully (worked him out) yet either as to what his best trip is and that sort of shows in the fact he has raced well at a mile, he has raced over a mile-and-a-half at home and has raced okay here at that trip.
"I would say on that (performance) we will try and keep him fairly fresh and keep him at a mile or 1800m and not go beyond 2000m at this stage. Without having a look in the book, I would say that is what we'll do."
WATCH: Bartholomeu Dias wins at Flemington
The final race of the season at Flemington was fittingly won by Eustace and his senior training partner Ciaron Maher as Seiners Express stormed from nearly last on the home turn to defeat Foxy Frida in the $135,000 Ken Cox Handicap (1700m).
Just 2.1 lengths covered the first nine horses across the line with Seiners Express, a last-start Silver Bowl Final winner, denying last-start Rivette Series Final winner Foxy Frida her third-consecutive Flemington win.
WATCH: Seiners Express win at Flemington
Maher and Eustace ended the season with 14 wins at Flemington, 11 of them in the past three months but none of them down the straight.
"I'd just like to thank the team, these aren't won without everyone across the country all over the place from Ballarat, Caulfield, Warwick Farm, Fingal or wherever they are. Hopefully we can get a few more wins next year," Eustace said.