Talented gelding Phantom Falcon racked up a well-earned victory at Happy Valley on Wednesday night after settling for seconds at most of his previous starts, but the horses for our black book are further back in the field.
Phantom Falcon is an admirable type and going to win his fair share of races but whether he ends up beating Gallant Return too often in the future remains to be seen.
Runners from season’s Griffin races, with the exception of Hot King Prawn, have still to make a big statement against the older population this season but the David Hall-trained Gallant Return is ready to do just that.
He looked a nice prospect when he finished second to Fantastic Show at his only previous run but he appears to have made a lot of progress during his summer break.
By the same stallion as Bullish Smart, Gallant Return is going to want longer than 1,200m and that showed as he was forced to take up a position at the rear of the field from a wide draw.
Stewards questioned jockey Zac Purton about his riding in the straight, as he put away the whip at the 150m mark, but he told the panel the horse continued to finish the race off well.
That was an understatement and, whip or no whip, Gallant Return sizzled down the straight, returning the second-best final 400m of the meeting and running into fourth in a race that was otherwise decided between three horses racing on the front end.
For that reason, the other back booker comes out of the same race, with Kiwi Sunrise not quite matching the exciting heroics of Gallant Return from the back but was responsible for an eighth that makes him a chance in a Class Four.
He was also ridden back from a wide draw but he had shown some speed in his trials and his previous start at 1,000m and can be closer from a better draw.
Still, he is by Darci Brahma from an Octagonal mare and looks like 1,400m or even a mile might suit him as he develops.