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Mr Brightside lands brutal C F Orr Stakes

Mr Brightside (NZ) had to call on all his fighting qualities to land victory in the first Group 1 race of the autumn at Caulfield. 

The C F Orr Stakes (1400m) on Saturday was turned into a war of attrition with the weight-for-age race run at a brutal tempo. Mr Brightside (NZ) had been slow into stride but quickly recovered his lost ground to settle midfield, but a good six lengths off Pride Of Jenni who led the way over Buffalo River (USA). 

Mr Brightside (NZ) arrives in the nick of time to record his fifth Group 1 victory; picture Racing Photos

The Lindsay Park-trained galloper, who is the pride of the stable run by Ben, Will and J D Hayes, was still spotting the leaders a healthy start into the straight. But the gelding's never-say-die attitude would not let him be beaten and under the urgings of Craig Williams, the $1.95 favourite wore down Pride Of Jenni ($9) to score a short-half-head victory, with Buffalo River ($61) a head away third. 

J D Hayes said Mr Brightside (NZ) was a great horse for the young trainers who are starting out on their careers. 

"Hopefully it's the start of a big autumn," Hayes said. "He's been beaten in the autumn first-up every time, so this is a first for him. 

"He's a seasoned campaigner now and there was nothing to read into the trials and jump-outs. We thought it was nothing for him just being an older horse." 

Hayes said Mr Brightside (NZ) would return to Caulfield for the Group 1 Futurity Stakes (1400m) on February 24 before heading to the All-Star Mile (1600m) at Caulfield on March 16 and the Group 1 Australian Cup (2000m) at Flemington two weeks later. 

"It's looking that way, so hopefully he keeps ticking the boxes," Hayes said. 

Williams said getting Mr Brightside (NZ) to the post had been hard work. He noted the multiple Group 1 winner usually starts off his preparations in a cheeky mood. 

"He's a little bit cheeky, a bit full of himself because he's got improvement and today, he got to the start and reared," Williams said. 

"We were lucky enough to get from a nice barrier into a nice position … it was only when we came under pressure, and he wasn't travelling, I went ‘oh wow’. 

"He was ready to come to the races, to compete and to win, but he's still got more to come, there's more improvement. 

"It was a brutal tactic by the second or third horse and it nearly got us all out of our comfort zone, but he's just got a great tenacity, a great will to win, and I can't wait to give him another pat now." 

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