The story of the 2019 Turnbull Stakes was Kings Will Dream, the winner who overcame a near-death experience and returned to the top of his game the best part of 12 months on to win his biggest prize to date. A Timeform rating of 118 concurs that this was a return to the best of Kings Will Dream. 118 identical to the rating produced when close up behind Winx in the same race last year.
A tale of triumph - but there was also a tale of woe.
Plenty has already been written about the tactics aboard Mystic Journey who was just another in a long line of victims of playing position over pace.
The plan was to ride Mystic Journey conservatively in order to stay the longer trip. The flawed physics of that idea aside, lengths conceded at the start are typically cheaper than what it costs to buy them back late and that was certainly the case on Saturday. Mystic Journey finished with plenty of cash but simply ran out of lengths to buy back in a race that turned into dash from the turn - the first two zipping home in closing 600's that would have slotted in nicely 40 minutes earlier in the card's feature sprint.
The result of that tempo was the slowest overall time in the Turnbull since December Draw in 2011. We know that raw times are largely a function of conditions on the day, and that was certainly the case in 2011 when conditions on Turnbull Day were much more testing than they were on Saturday. We have to go back another eight years to 2003 and Studebaker to find another Turnbull slower and here we find a race that mirrors Saturday's shape/scenario quite closely.
The best late closer there? Makybe Diva, who was hopelessly placed against the pace of the race but used it as a springboard to the first of her three Melbourne Cups. Mystic Journey isn't about to use this fast-finishing Turnbull run to kickstart a legendary Cups career but she can use it to go on and peak around the Valley in three weeks time where she should still be considered one of the key chances in the Cox Plate.
This is where the glass is half full for Mystic Journey. The slow-fast set up lends itself to a potentially false result, certainly not a conclusive one, but it also lends itself to peaks deeper into the spring.
Studebaker was unseen for the spring following his Turnbull win but eight came out from behind him to run peaks subsequent to that Turnbull including that Makybe's Melbourne Cup and Mummify winning the Caulfield Cup.
Mystic Journey may not have troubled it in three runs this spring but her 124-rated peak is still within reach in our view and if she can produce it in the Cox Plate it will take a noteworthy performance to beat her.
Runner up Finche is another bursting to run to a new peak and is the other key takeaway from the race. He has run to 119 this spring, having been rated 120 when coming across to Australia with an awesome profile.
He ran to 119 when fourth in the Melbourne Cup as well but there remains a strong feeling that there is a bigger number to come from the long-striding son of Frankel. In fact, it's that long stride (so long that it is obviously so just watching him run) should prove a much more potent weapon when the emphasis switches from speed to stamina. In theory he should be poorly suited by Saturday's pace scenario which bodes well for what is to come under different circumstances which will hopefully present themselves deeper into the spring.
Kings Will Dream (IRE), Finche (GB) left, Hartnell (GB) right, picture Quentinjlang.com