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Stunning return to racing sets up a big spring for Exhilarates

Mike Hedge

Magic Millions-winning filly Exhilarates has set the early standard for new-season three-year-olds in Australia with a devastating victory in the G3 Quezette Stakes at Caulfield on Saturday, 17 August.

One of the best of Godolphin’s vintage crop of juveniles of 2018-19, Exhilarates overwhelmed her opposition with a performance that suggested a stellar spring could be ahead.

And her win was matched by that of stablemate Bivouac who returned from his winter spell with a dominant win in the G3 Vain Stakes.

Exhilarates had placed herself among the top bracket of two-year-olds last season, winning one of the country’s top-three juvenile races, the A$2 million Magic Millions 2YO Classic.

She was spelled after failing on a bottomless tack in the G1 Golden Slipper, but showed today she had come back in sparkling form.

“She was outstanding today, we couldn’t have ordered a better return to racing,” said Godolphin Melbourne foreman Sean Keogh.

“That was the performance of a high-class filly.”

Winning rider Kerrin McEvoy described the win as “exactly what you would want to see.”

“The race was run at a good tempo that gave her every chance to show what she’s got,” McEvoy said.

“You always want to see them come back at three, and she’s done that in style.”

Jockey Kerrin McEvoy gave Exhilarates time to settle in the 1,100m event, calling on her passing the 400m.

The pair quickly closed on the leaders, putting away a strong field, seemingly with ease.

“She a very classy filly. I won the Magic Millions on her and she has come on since then,” McEvoy said.

“That was a dominant win, a very good effort.”

Bivouac had an easier task in the colts and geldings’ division, cruising behind the leaders until well into the straight and then letting down with a paralysing burst at the 200m that carried him to 4-1/4 length win.

“He’s a classy colt who has run right up to his two-year-old form,” Keogh said.

The win also impressed rider Hugh Bowman who rated the colt a “way above average three-year-old”.

“The turn of foot he showed was what you see in a top-class colt, he’s got something,” Bowman said.

The evergreen Hartnell also put up an encouraging first-up performance at Caulfield, finishing third in the G2 PB Lawrence Stakes being the high-class filly Mystic Journey and Cliff’s Edge.

While the run suggested Hartnell had returned in good order, it also took his racetrack earnings beyond A$7 million in a race in which he has now finished first, second and third.