Crystal Dreamer has defied his starting price to spring a surprise in the Group Three The Heath at Caulfield, upstaging a field of well-regarded sprinters in his first start for almost a year.
Seven-year-old Crystal Dreamer had been off the scene for 51 weeks because of a suspensory injury but returned in style to defeat Gytrash and defending champion Ball Of Muscle in Saturday’s 1100m race.
Dual Group One winner Vega Magic was sent out the short-priced favourite but weakened out of it in the straight after settling near the pace, finishing last.
Crystal Dreamer started $41 and defeated the fast-finishing Gytrash by a half-length with leader Ball Of Muscle holding third, another long neck away.
“He’s coming back off an injury and you’re just hoping they can get through in one piece. We probably didn’t think today was his day but he had certainly prepped up well for the run,” Crystal Dreamer’s co-trainer Mat Ellerton said.
“The horse was super and he trialled really well last week.
“But we just thought the set weights plus penalties conditions of the race was probably not his go and he would be improved from today going back to a handicap.”
Crystal Dreamer, who finished third in the same race two years ago, took his record to 11 wins from 28 starts and Ellerton said it was great to see him back.
“He’s a happy, healthy horse and that’s what he’s capable of today,” he said.
The Gordon Richards-trained four-year-old Gytrash was a luckless runner, jumping a bit slowly before charging through between runners late in an eye-catching return.
“With clear running in the straight he wins,” jockey Craig Williams said.
Jockey Damien Oliver said Vega Magic was disappointing and didn’t enjoy having Ball Of Muscle just ahead of him on his outside.
“He stayed on one lead, which was his wrong lead, the whole way and didn’t change,” Oliver said.
“He didn’t seem to be sore in any way, or any other reasonable excuse, just the fact he’s usually the one who likes the dictate the tempo and didn’t get his chance to do that today.”