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By Graham Potter | Sunday, August 13, 2023

Discretion proved the better part of valour when the decision was made to send the Joshua King trained Highbar back to the Sunshine Coast for his second career start in a Three-Year-Old BM68 Handicap over 1200m on August 13, instead of taking up the option to tackle a QTIS Three-Year-Old Open Handicap over 1000m in town at Eagle Farm the day before, a race for which he was nominated.

Highbar had romped home on debut, destroying the best of his opposition by 4.80 lengths, and the decision to not take on the likes of the more experienced Miss Coota … who already had Group 3 experience behind her name (she placed fifth in the Bruce McLachlan) and who was good enough to earn a place in the Magic Millions Two-year-old Classic … proved to be a sound one in terms of keeping Highbar on a winning roll … but it was a very close call.

Highbar dominated the betting at $1.45, odds which reflected the bookmakers’ thoughts that another annihilation job was on the cards, but the $10 Chance Aristella had bookies cheering and favourite backers sweating over the final 100m as the Danny Bougoure trained runner carried more momentum than the favourite, who had led throughout, over the concluding stages and seriously threatened to cause a boilover.

Mark Du Plessis had guided Highbar through a measured gallop from the start all the way to the home straight, doing enough to dictate things from the front, before asking Highbar to quicken coming past the 300m mark.

Quicken he did … and with 250m left to run another comfortable victory appeared to be about to be clinched by Highbar but, left alone in front, this time Highbar did not push on and complete the rout.

While Highbar was always comfortably holding off Spirit Of Brodie ($17), who was closest to Highbar at the 200m mark, the same could not be said of his position in relation to Aristella who, after being four lengths behind Highbar at the 200m, started to cut into Highbar’s lead … slowly at first (he was still three lengths back at the 100m mark), and then with real meaning to the degree that Aristella looked to have levelled up with Highbar in the last stride with the two runners going to the line together, seemingly impossible to separate with the naked eye.

As it turned out, Highbar and Du Plessis had clung on by the narrowest of margins, thwarting the late charge of Aristella.

This was not the manner in which the betting had predicted the result might be achieved by Highbar, but it was a win nevertheless … that’s two from two now after stepping up in distance from 1000m to 1200m, all the while gaining important race experience.

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