Australian Bloodstock are confident of having Princess Posh cleared for the group 1 Tattersall's Tiara in two weeks after her late scratching from the Stradbroke Handicap marred an otherwise successful Saturday for the Hunter company.
Sixties Groove won the group 2 Brisbane Cup (2400 metres), and Big Duke was third, for Australian Bloodstock and Newcastle trainer Kris Lees to cap the Eagle Farm meeting.
It was more than a consolation win for the team, who were frustrated not to have a runner a race earlier in the $1.5 million Stradbroke.
Princess Posh was scratched late by order of stewards after she was deemed not sound when vetted on race eve. The mare had earlier in the week overcome a foot abscess but when checked on raceday, she was declared to have an issue elsewhere.
It was a blow for connections, who withdrew the five-year-old from the national broodmare sale on the Gold Coast to compete in the Stradbroke and Tatt's Tiara after she was a surprise second in the group 1 Kingsford-Smith Cup.
They also had hoped to gain a second starter in the Stradbroke with Tactical Advantage, which was first emergency before racing earlier on the program in the Hinkler Handicap.
Australian Bloodstock co-director Jamie Lovett was confident Princess Posh would race in the $500,000 Tatt's Tiara (1400m) at Eagle Farm.
"We'll fly our vet up and show them that that's just the way she is," Lovett said.
"She's had that gait for three years, that's just the way she walks and trots up. Nothing has changed in three years."
Stablemate Sixties Groove changed the group's fortunes with a powerful finish under a clever ride by Damien Oliver from back in the field to win the $400,000 closer by almost a length.
Oliver dismounted Sixties Groove before returning to the winners' circle and vets found the six-year-old import had lameness in the near foreleg.
Lovett said Sixties Groove had jarred up on the firm track and would be spelled ahead of bigger targets in the spring.
"He's proven now he can run the mile and a half so I think a race like the Caulfield Cup will be a fair enough target for a horse like him," Lovett said.
"I don't think he will get any further, but he doesn't have to. Who knows? He could be a Cox Plate horse depending on what's around."
Lovett said Big Duke would push on to the group 3 Tattersall's Cup (3000m) at Eagle Farm on June 22.
Aliferous will head for a spell after her two-lengths third to Mr Quickie in the Queensland Derby. The filly overraced in the middle stages after the fall of Lord Arthur and jockey Corey Brown early, but she finished strongly under Brenton Avdulla.
"She ran terrific," Lovett said.
"I was very proud of her. She was a bit unlucky that she got caught when that horse came down."
Brown was having an operation on a fractured lower back but he had full movement. Lord Arther was euthanised after breaking his near hind leg.
Itz Lily made it an interstate city double for Lees and Australian Bloodstock, winning at Randwick with Sammie Clenton aboard.
AAP report on Saturday: A plan hatched months ago by trainer Kris Less paid off when Sixties Groove won the Group Two Brisbane Cup (2400m) at Eagle Farm.
Following placings in the Doomben Cup and PJ O'Shea Stakes in his lead-up, Sixties Groove ($3.80) withstood a determined challenge from Grey Lion ($11) to win by three quarters of a length with Big Duke ($26) 2-1/2 lengths away third.
"This was our target all the way along and after he ran so well in the Doomben Cup we knew we were heading in the right direction," stable spokesman Cameren Swan said.
"He's been as honest as the day is long and it was a brilliant ride from Damien (Oliver).
"At the 600m I was wondering where he was going to go but he kept improving, finding the runs and the horse was good enough to take them."
In a post-race scare, Oliver dismounted from Sixties Groove as the gelding was led back to the enclosure.
"He pulled up a little bit sore. I don't think it's anything too drastic but it was just precautionary that I got off him," Oliver said.
"The last few strides before I pulled him up he put in a couple of short ones. Maybe he's stood on himself or it might be a shoe and there's nothing too serious but we'll know more when he cools down."
Oliver settled Sixties Groove well back on the fence before navigating a path in the straight to hit the lead inside the final 100 metres.
"I had to go back early, take our medicine and ride him for luck," Oliver said.
"We know he's got a good finish. I got some nice runs through them coming to the turn and then it came down to a bit of a war with Grey Lion and we were able to come out on top.
"Getting to Eagle Farm on the bigger track over a mile and a half really suited him."
It was Oliver's third win in the Brisbane Cup following Sheer Kingston (1999) and Viewed (2008) while it was the first for Lees.
Haripour was heavily backed to start the $3.10 favourite but could manage only eighth while cult hero The Candy Man ($7.5) beat only three runners home after racing wide for the first half of the race.