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The Wrap - G2 Alister Clark Stakes meeting

A peach of a ride from jockey Ben Melham helped Dundeel colt Global Exchange solidify his claim on next month's $2m ATC Derby with a strong win in the G2 Alister Clark Stakes at The Valley on Friday night.

The Ciaron Maher and David Eustace-trained three year-old made it three wins in a row and now looks set to go straight into the Derby on April 6 at Randwick.

Declarationofheart finished in second for Anthony Freedman and has also firmed in most markets following the run for next month's Australian Derby.

But it was a late night in the stewards room as Damien Oliver received a 10-meeting careless-riding suspension for his ride on the son of Declaration of War, set to start at midnight March 23 and run until April 2, allowing the leading hoop to retain his planned rides at Sydney's Golden Slipper meeting next weekend.

Oliver pleaded guilty to the charge, with stewards finding he had shifted out near the 700m when insufficiently clear of Mark Zahra's mount Adana.

Meanwhile Godolphin was happy with Cossetot's run to finish third in the Alister Clark, with assistant trainer Kate Grimwade saying post race that he had run very well and had just run into a couple of better ones on the night and that it's still all systems go into the ATC Derby.

Interestingly when Craig Williams jumped off the Epaulette gelding he indicated it could be a good idea to send him to the Tulloch Stakes at Rosehill on March 30 ahead of the Derby.

Robbie Laing was also very happy with the Alister Clark performance of last spring's G1 Vic Derby second-placegetter, Stars Of Carrum, confident if he'd got a clear run he would have been in the finish and exclaiming that "when they get out further he'll street them".

It was a promising night for the Maher-Eustace stable, also winning the last of the night with Kardashing recording an impressive victory when stepping out to 2040m for the first time.
 
It didn't all go to plan though for the Maher-Eustace stable, with former Japanese import Kemono disappointing when favourite in the Listed Ranvet Abell Stakes (1200m), over-racing early and not looking comfortable in blinkers for the first time, with Eustace saying it was a disappointing run and it looks like he'll need further next race.

Another favourite to not perform to expectation on the night was Tony McEvoy's blue-blood filly Divanation, the daughter of champion Makybe Diva.

In her first race since last June, the four year-old started the $2.4 favourite in the Gallagher Bassett Handicap (1600m), but ended up finishing third behind Tongsai Boss and Atlantic Express.

Assistant trainer Mick Shepherdson said the stable wasn't too worried about the performance saying the All Too Hard-mare needs further and we won't see the best of her until she runs over 2000m. But it doesn't look like we'll see her run at stakes level anytime soon with Sheperdson confirming she'll just go through the grades this preparation with bigger goals in the spring.

It could be a big night for the McEvoy stable next Friday night at The Valley, with Newmarket Handicap-winner Sunlight the early $2.5 favourite for the G1 William Reid Stakes.

The dual G1 winner will gallop at The Valley on Monday morning ahead of Friday's feature.

The Zoustar filly has only raced at the track once before when she missed the start last spring in the G1 Manikato Stakes, with Sheperdson admitting there has to be a questionmark on how she'll cope again under lights on a big night at The Valley.

Oliver wasn't the only jockey handed a suspension on Alister Clark Stakes night, with Andrew Mallyon receiving an 11-meeting suspension for interference for his winning ride in the first race aboard the David Brideoake-trained Kings Brook.
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