But Clark was adamant that he would have Time To Reign in a near identical position if similar circumstances presented after Sylvia’s Memory and Escaped rushed through on his inside.
He claimed the inside part of the track was inferior on the heavy Warwick Farm surface and his mount was only ever racing in a straight line from the 1100m start in the chute until it reached the bend.
I wasn’t concerned about racing in that position. I’d do it every time.
Van Gestel replied: «But you’re covering additional ground to every other runner [on the circle]. You’re on a $1.85 chance and it hasn’t assisted your horse.»
Dingwall told Clark that less than six per cent of runners which travel wide without cover at Warwick Farm across all distances and in all track conditions win, prompting Clark to question the SP prices of those runners.
«I’ve ridden here for many years and the track pattern is pretty similar,» Clark said. «The inside section of the track is not the place to be. I wasn’t concerned about racing in that position.
«I’d do it every time.»
Clark said Time To Reign was «OK» on the heavy surface, which was upgraded following the opening race, and said he would have raced outside Sylvia’s Memory if Escaped hadn’t have mustered quickly after a tardy start.
«The horse raced keenly and if I gave him a dig he would have been off and running,» Clark said. «If I gave him any message, he’s off and gone. The winner probably would have beaten him anyway because he had the race fitness and had the run under his belt.»
Time To Reign’s trainer Gary Portelli expressed similar sentiments to stewards and would have preferred Clark push forward on the colt. Stewards eventually told the rider that in their opinion he should have been more aggressive in the early stages to sit outside the leader.
Godolphin’s Slipper artillery strengthened after the win of the Blake Shinn-ridden Bivouac ($6), which charged to victory from Cosmic Force ($6.50) and debutant Steel Diamond ($11).
Slipper favourite Tassort is due to trial on Monday and Magic Millions winner Exhilarates will return in another heat later in the week.
Asked about Bivouac’s spot in the Godolphin pecking order, James Cummings’ assistant Darren Beadman joked: «He’d be in the top 10. He’s a real little professional and just gets the job done. You can’t ask any more than what the horse has done.
«It’s been a great race for us and nothing gives us much more pleasure than winning the Lonhro Plate. That’s certainly put him right up the ladder. He hasn’t put a foot wrong since he’s been in.
«One year there we had a choice of five runners in the Slipper. We’ve always been strong. Last year we were a bit light, but this year is looking better.»
It was the fourth time the Darley and Godolphin brand has won the Lonhro Plate in six years.
Cummings’ golden run continued when Badajoz outmuscled stablemate Malahat two races later in a benchmark 94.
Adam Pengilly is a Sports reporter for The Sydney Morning Herald.