The Ciaron Maher and David Eustace stable were to the fore with fit and in-form horses Persan and Al Galayel supplying them with an early double at Caulfield.
Emerging stayer Persan took out the 2400 metre open handicap and Al Galayel the 2000 metre equivalent and both horses have booked themselves starts in bigger races after their wins.
Eustace said they felt Al Galayel had an edge in fitness over the majority of his rivals who were resuming from spells.
“He’s just in a really good vein of form. Ben (Melham) knows him really well and that swooping run really suits him,” Eustace said.
“He just had to stick it out late because he was asked for a good effort.”
Al Galayel ($6) held off two highly-rated stayers in Orderofthegarter ($3 fav) by a long head with Schabau ($4.60) a half-head away third.
Eustace said they would now run Al Galayel in the Group Three Naturalism Stakes (2000 metres), a race which carries a golden ticket into the Caulfield Cup.
Emerging stayer Persan continued his good form with a win in the opening race in such an easy style that he could now be aimed at bigger spring races.
Persan has now won four of his past five starts and had little trouble transitioning from three-year-old company to taking on older stayers, which Eustace had thought was a slight question mark.
“That was quite impressive. He’s got a rating to allow him to go through the grades. He’s going to go up again today but we’ll give him the opportunity to run in a nice race,” Eustace said.
Eustace said they would look at the Ansett Classic (2400 metres) at Mornington on September 27, or The Bart Cummings (2500 metres) at Flemington on October 3.
Persan’s jockey Jye McNeil said it was a soft win and the horse had a bright future.
Persan ($2.30 fav) defeated Double You Tee ($5) by 1-3/4 lengths with Exemplar ($8.50) the same distance away third.
Caulfield trainer Nick Ryan will continue to work through the grades with Express Pass after his Caulfield win.
Ryan was named the Colin Alderson Rising Star for the younger trainers at the Racing Victoria awards ceremony during the week.