It was a day to remember on Saturday for the high-profile partnership behind Exceedance as the son of Exceed And Excel put in a classy display to land the stallion making Group One Coolmore Stud Stakes at Flemington.
The colt owned a group of high-profile connections, including Phoenix Thoroughbreds, Vinery Stud and Black Caviar’s former owners, already had a Group Three victory plus placed efforts in Group Two and Group One company on the CV, but under an ice-cool ride from Dwayne Dunn, he fulfilled his potential.
As the rain fell at the Victorian track the Hawkes Racing trainee was sent off as the favourite to land his maiden top-level success over the straight 1200m trip. Drawn potentially on the “wrong side” the three-year-old was buffeted about in the open strides and was forced to settle off the pace. Wearing the iconic green and white of Vinery Dunn kept his head and allowed his mount to find his stride. Spotting his likely nearest rivals Bivouac and Libertini towards the far rail, the rider manoeuvred Exceedance to sit in behind them. Travelling as well as anything in the race the pair started to wind things up with a couple of furlongs to go and drawing alongside Bivouac the two rivals pulled clear of the rest and engaged in a battle for supremacy before Exceedance eased away to score by around half a length.
“When he (Bivouac) kicked I thought he had a task in front of him,” Said co-trainer Wayne Hawkes. “But Dwayne judged it well and got him through up on the inside,”
“It was a great result for the top three (placegetters) because they are all really good horses and what it has shown is that we’ve got a great bunch of three-year-olds and they’ve all franked their own form.”
Hawkes’ assessment of his jockey’s ride was not the only plaudits to come Dunn’s way but despite the early ‘trouble’ Dunn insists everything went to plan.
“There was a little bit of a bang together at the start with Craig Williams (Ruuca) and another one on my outside,” The rider explained. “We had a game plan before the race. We knew we were only going to win it late.
“I saw the back of Libertini and Bivouac, and I thought they were the right horses to take me where I needed to go. I got on the back of them.”
Exceedance has yet to finish outside the places in six starts, winning three times and finishing third on three other occasions. That run of form has seen him take his prize money earnings to AU$1,137,115 and it appears he might not be done yet. It has already been hinted he may race on as a four-year-old with a possible mission to Royal Ascot on the cards.