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Weekend Hussler confirms superstar status

Flemington: Makybe Diva Stakes (Group 2) 1m

AUSSIE superstar Weekend Hussler silenced a few critics and set up a mouth-watering spring with another scintillating performance in the Group 2 Makybe Diva Stakes at Flemington.

Recently named horse of the year after winning six Group 1s as a three-year-old, ‘The Hussler' made a mockery of the rematch with Light Fantastic, who had lowered his colours in the Liston Stakes on August 16, with a simply devastating effort.

Reappearing quickly just a week after winning the Memsie Stakes, Weekend Hussler began well and regular rider Brad Rawiller dropped him into second, just behind pacemaker Indio Glorioso.

The pace was not strong, and Weekend Hussler wasin the perfect position as the home turn loomed. Rawiller sent him forward to challenge the leader and it was apparent two furlongs out that Light Fantastic, who had tracked his great rival, was under pressure.

With a furlong and a half to run, Rawiller gave Weekend Hussler his head and the powerful son of Hussonet changed gears and lengthened in the style of a true champion. He bolted to the line some two and a-half lengths clear of a game Zarita, with Littorio flying home to take third three-quarters of a-length back.

Light Fantastic battled into fourth, with last year's Caulfield Cup winner Master O'Reilly and Melbourne Cup winner Efficient both turning in eyecatching runs to take fifth and sixth respectively.                                        

Weekend Hussler ran his final three furlongs in 33.52sec, and the 7-10 favourite certainly did justice to the first running of the $A500,000 (£229,000) feature named in honour of the three-time Melbourne Cup winner.

Weekend Hussler's Caulfield-based trainer Ross McDonald was in ebullient mood afterwards.

"We have had an incident-free week with him," he said. "His run in the Memsie last week did him the world of good, andhis work this week has been fantastic.

"He's terrific to train. You can jump him out and put him on the pace, grab hold of him and settle him, and then he has that irresistible sprint,."

Weekend Hussler will now step up to 1m1f in the Group 1 Underwood Stakes at Caulfield on September 20 as a prelude to the major races of the spring carnival.

Mick Price, Light Fantastic's trainer, was disappointed with his star.

"There's nothing identifiable as to why he would turn in such an averagerun - he's pulled up sound and is good in the wind," he said.

Weekend Hussler has now won 11 of his 14 career starts, and his stake earnings stand at $A2.8m (£1.3m).                                                                                     


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