The famous Dean Braun colours were on display as Chancellor Cullen claimed tonight's Group 2 City of Melton Plate.
The signs are simply ominous.
Always revered as a breeding ground for champions of the future with an honour roll including Shakamaker, Tailamade Lombo and Sokyola, the Group 2 City of Melton Plate has an uncanny knack of unearthing performances prophetic in their nature.
And if former Kiwi campaigner Chancellor Cullen’s victory in the $50,000 feature tonight was a portent of things to come, then we may have just witnessed the birth of a star.
Still reeling from his narrow failure in Victoria’s richest Four and Five-Year-Old feature last year, when Mustang Mach and Night Of The Stars filled placings behind Bitobliss, Lara trainer Dean Braun was looking for revenge at headquarters this evening.
It first appeared his dream may become reality when Chancellor Cullen was crunched from $8 into $3.40 with the TAB via fixed odds, but his demolition of a very classy field including NZ Cup aspirant Caribbean Blaster made those odds look luxurious in the end.
“He (Chancellor Cullen) is a superstar, he’s the best horse I’ve put a bridle on and with no disrespect to any of the others he was only about 80% fit tonight,” Braun said.
“He’s freakish this horse – he jogged a 27.1 (second) quarter on his ear and he showed how strong he was in The Graduate.
“He was the best three-year-old in New Zealand when he was right and he made them look pretty ordinary tonight.”
As expected, there was a terrific early burn in the night’s feature race, with Im The Barney rubble and Keayang Cullen engaging in a duel for the lead before the former horse broke rounding the turn out of the straight.
Chris Alford and Chancellor Cullen were the major beneficiaries of the slick 45.1 second lead time as they were able to cruise across and find the front not long after the pace eventually slowed.
Once he reached the top, Braun’s four-year-old son of Christian Cullen maintained the rage, recording quarters of 30.8 and 30 with Chariots of Fire champion Caribbean Blaster breathing down his neck.
The two favourites were locked in a stirring war through a third quarter of 27.6, but eventually the effort told on Caribbean Blaster, who never shirked the task in a brilliant final fraction of 27.1.
The 1:55.4 mile rate for the race was the quickest in Melton Plate history and ensured Chancellor Cullen will head to Perth for their four-year-old features as a worthy adversary for local star Im Victorious in coming months.
“This guy will have a week off in the water walker and then we’ll get him ready for the McInerney and the (Golden) Nugget,” Braun said.
The official Melton Plate margins were 8.4m by 3.8m, with Caribbean Blaster losing no admirers in second position and Keayang Cullen fighting on strongly for third after his blistering start.