Side Glance holds on after a bit of magic in the saddle from Jamie SpencerPICTURE: Getty Images
Side Glance shines
under brilliant Spencer
Report: Australia, Saturday
Flemington: Longines Mackinnon Stakes (Group 1) 1m2f, turf, 3yo+
FRIDAY ended spectacularly and Saturday started just as gloriously for British-trained horses abroad as the Andrew Balding-trained Side Glance benefited from a sublime Jamie Spencer ride to capture the Group 1 Longines Mackinnon Stakes.
Just a handful of hours after Britain enjoyed a Breeders' Cup bonanza with three victories at Santa Anita, the successes continued to flow freely in Australia as first Ruscello and then Side Glance put the seal on a wonderful spell for the raiders.
Following Ruscello's all-the-way win in the Lexus Stakes, Britain will have six of the 24 runners in Tuesday's Emirates Melbourne Cup, in which Spencer and owner Sheikh Fahad Al Thani will seek to capture the southern hemisphere's greatest prize with its 2011 winner Dunaden.
On Tuesday they will be racing for France but in the Mackinnon they were very much on the side of Britain, where Side Glance had come up short on four occasions when tested in Group 1 company. He was beaten again at the top level just seven days earlier, a short hop from Flemington in Moonee Valley's Cox Plate, but with the sheikh's retained rider Spencer replacing Craig Williams, Side Glance put that disappointment to bed and enjoyed by some way his finest hour.
"I just wanted to show that all the rubbish I've been reading about British horses in Australia is wrong," said the sheikh.
"This horse showed today he is extremely good. Andrew said to Jamie to do whatever he wanted to do. Jamie has got a clock in his head. He is the number one, the best."
The recipient of the Pearl Bloodstock supremo's praise found it difficult to control the hard-pulling Side Glance in the early stages and opted to let him move to the front with still well over half the race to run. Spencer then sought to steal the race when kicking for home at the top of the home straight and it was a move that reaped dividends as Side Glance - bred by Balding's mother Emma - dug deep to hold off Dear Demi and Moriarty in a blanket finish.
"I wasn't nervous coming here but it is something different," said Spencer. "This is the unknown and when you come here you're a fish out of water.
"I felt if I'd stayed in midfield the pace we were going wasn't going to suit him. I was banking on him pricking his ears when he got to the front and thankfully he did because if he had carried on in the way he had been before getting to the front he would have run himself into the ground.
"He is a timid horse but he can pull. Jimmy Fortune is the strongest rider in England and he said he is the strongest horse he has ever ridden."
Balding, who heaped praise on Kingsclere groom Leanne Masterton for her efforts in preparing Side Glance during his lengthy stay in Australia, said: "It's a big thrill and to get a Group 1 winner on such a big day is fantastic. Leanne has been out with the horse for a month a bit and has made my job very easy.
"He was a bit keen in the Cox Plate, and maybe he needed it to knock the edge off him, but Jamie has always got on very well with the horse and I thought he gave him the most beautiful ride. That made the difference between winning and not."
Ruscello (far side) does enough to make the final Melbourne Cup fieldPICTURE: Getty Images
Also on Saturday
Flemington: Lexus Stakes (Group 3 handicap) 1m4½f, turf
DERBY day at Flemington started brilliantly for the British as Ruscello, beaten in three Kempton all-weather handicaps this year, secured a last-minute spot in the Emirates Melbourne Cup by making all under Kerrin McEvoy in the Lexus Stakes.
Trainer Ed Walker, whose four-year-old is half-owned by the Australian OTI Racing syndicate, had made clear in the build up to the race that allowing Ruscello to run twice within the space of three days would be a tough call, but the lure of the Melbourne Cup proved too much and the recent Caulfield second was subsequently confirmed a starter on Tuesday.
"To win a race here in Cup week is pretty special," said Walker, celebrating his first Group success.
"This horse has been a bit disappointing at home, and he didn't progress quite as I had hoped, so I'm chuffed to be able to reward his owners."
London property investor Laurence Bellman, who retained half of Ruscello after the OTI sale, said: "I flew in from London yesterday having never been to Australia before and just to run in a race here was a fantastic achievement.
"I'm so overwhelmed because I never thought we were going to win. I saw someone backing him on the tote and I decided I had to have $100 on him each-way but only as a souvenir ticket.
"I had a winner at Wolverhampton on Wednesday and now a winner in Melbourne on Saturday."
Assessing Ruscello's Melbourne Cup claims, McEvoy said: "He's a very genuine horse. He stepped up today to win and he'd have a competitive chance in the Cup."